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Board: No to wind energy  

Debate on a controversial wind-energy bill has been stalled as budget talks dominate Lansing’s agenda, and the Blackman Township Board came out against the bill Monday night.

House Bill 4254, introduced in February, would allow the placement of windmills in any zoning classification as long as they meet certain conditions, including proximity to adjoining property and limits on the amount of noise created.

Blackman Township Supervisor Ray Snell said he is opposed to the bill because it would trump local zoning regulations regarding the placement of windmills.

“It allows anybody to put up a windmill in a residential district,” Snell said.

The township board voted unanimously to oppose the bill.

The sponsor of the bill, Rep. Howard Walker, R-Traverse City, said he had hoped his bill would spark some dialogue among local municipalities on the topic, but that hasn’t happened the way he envisioned it.

“They have not engaged in any other dialogue other than that they want local control,” Walker said.

Walker said people talk about the need for energy independence and the need to boost the state’s economy, but talk of windmills, which he says does both, is not well received.

“If we’re really going to be serious about Michigan generating its own energy, we need to get over this notion that windmills are a detriment to our countryside,” he said.

He said he is looking into placing a windmill on his property to power his home.

“I think it’s important we have local control on zoning issues,” Snell said. “(Windmills) certainly don’t belong in residential districts.”

Snell said the township planning commission is working on zoning issues related to the placement of windmills as part of its future master plan.

“This is a fairly new thing for this area,” he said.

Walker said his bill made it to the House floor for a vote last year but did not pass. He revived it earlier this year and tried again.

“I’m still very optimistic we can garner some bipartisan support,” he said.

After its introduction, his bill was sent to the Intergovernmental, Urban and Regional Affairs Committee, where it has remained.

Committee chairwoman Rep. Barb Byrum said there has not been any movement on the bill yet, because the state budget issue has been her primary focus.

“I will hold hearings, but a date has not been set,” she said.

Byrum said she recognizes that wind energy is an emerging industry, but she also wants to see respect given to local communities and their ability to regulate zoning issues.

Walker said local municipalities have made it hard for wind developers to site their windmills, causing delays and uncertainty in an industry that could bring needed jobs and revenue to the state.

“This is an industry that is gaining momentum,” Walker said. “If nothing else, we’ve helped spread the word about renewable energy.”

By Chris Gautz
Staff writer Fredricka Paul contributed to this story.

The Jackson Citizen Patriot

10 July 2007

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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