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Wind farm hearing is Thursday  

The Livingston County Zoning Board of Appeals will hear the closing statement at 7 p.m. Thursday from the developers of the proposed Cayuga Ridge South Wind Farm. Then it will be time for the board to start deliberations, to determine if the project complies with the eight standards for special uses that county zoning specifies.

The statement, part of the multi-session public hearing on the project at Pontiac Township High School, is anticipated to be fairly brief, as it is not presentation of new evidence but only a summary of Iberdrola Renewables’ request for a special use permit to allow the 155-turbine wind farm across 15,000 acres in Union, Odell and Saunemin townships.

Thursday’s session is part of the final stages of a public hearing on the wind farm. Information and evidence was presented during seven sessions of the hearing, the first of which was on April 28. Iberdrola representatives gave a presentation on the project to begin the hearing; then county residents or landowners asked questions of them or gave their own testimony, both in favor of and in opposition to, the project at subsequent sessions, some of them lasting three hours.

If the zoning board needs another session for deliberations, it will be held Monday, June 30. The Livingston County Board is currently expected to vote on the permit in July. Under this county’s zoning, a wind farm in agriculturally zoned land is a special use, requiring a permit.

Iberdrola Renewables, a Spain-based company, on May 1 acquired PPM Energy, which presented the project at the first session of the hearing on April 28.

Under county zoning, the Zoning Board of Appeals “must find the proposed Special Use complies with” the required standards, “however, the criteria for determining the acceptability of a Special Use shall not be limited to” the standards.

Of those eight standards, one seems to be obviously met in Iberdrola’s application, but two others have been brought up by opponents of the wind farm or those with concerns about or opposing it.

Standard 3 is that the special use “is located in a zoning district where such use is permitted.” All the towers are in agriculturally zoned areas, where a wind farm is a permitted special use.

Standard 1 requires a special use to be “consistent in all respects with the Livingston County Comprehensive Plan and the Livingston County Zoning Ordinance.” The comprehensive plan approves of wind farms in agriculturally zoned areas.

Three standards, however, have been frequently cite by residents with concerns about the wind farm.

One is standard 2: “Will not be detrimental to or endanger the public health, safety, morals, comfort or general welfare;”

Standard 5 also has been cited by opponents: “Will not be injurious to the use and enjoyment of other property in the immediate vicinity for the uses already permitted, or substantially reduce the value of neighboring property;”

Standard 6 has been brought up by them, as well: “Will not impede orderly growth, development and improvement: of surrounding property for those uses permitted in the zoning district;”

County zoning also provides that the Zoning Board of Appeals “may, at its discretion, qualify any approval for a Special Use subject to certain conditions being imposed upon and agreed to by the applicant prior to requesting the Zoning Administrator issue an Improvement Location Permit.”

By John Faddoul, Staff Reporter

Pontiac Daily Leader

24 June 2008

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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