Harnessing wind power for energy took a step forward in Sylvan Township Thursday when the Planning Commission approved an ordinance that will allow installation of temporary wind-monitoring towers.
About 20 people turned out for the public hearing on whether the township should facilitate the wind project, which is being promoted by Washtenaw County.
The county is looking at a farm in Sylvan and another in Lima Township for the so-called “monopole” test towers that are 262 feet tall and support wind-monitoring sensors. And county officials also disclosed Thursday night that a second possible site in Sylvan Township is under consideration at the Chrysler Proving Grounds.
If the test sites show that area winds could sustain wind turbines, the data will be given to developers who could pursue installation of the turbines.
“The turbines, if ever, are way off in the future,” said Josh Long, a county planner.
Township residents asked questions about property setbacks, noise levels and harm to birds.
Because there seems to be an interest in wind power in the township, “We need to be proactive to have something in our ordinances,” said Bob Polens, chairman of the Sylvan planning commission.
After the hour-long discussion, the commission voted 4-0 in favor of allowing the test poles, with one abstention. Planning Commission member Barbara Satterthwaite abstained because land that she owns with her husband, Trent, is under consideration for a test tower.
The ordinance to regulate wind energy facilities next heads to the Sylvan Township Board for consideration, and its next regularly scheduled board meeting is Jan. 8.
Once the board approves the ordinance, erecting a monitoring tower would require a special use permit.
Lima Township will hold a public hearing for a special land use for a wind monitoring tower on Dec. 18 at 7:30 p.m.
By Lisa Allmendinger
7 December 2007
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