Palmyra Township may prove to be fertile ground for wind farms according to Jeff Ehlert of Blissfield Wind Energy, L.L.C., who expressed his company’s interest to trustees at Thursday night’s meeting.
Ehlert summarized the company’s investigation into the possibility of incorporating the eastern and southern borders of the township into the larger project pending for Riga and Ogden townships. Ehlert made the presentation to the township trustees during the communications portion of the agenda.
Blissfield Wind Energy, along with Great Lakes Wind Energy, the other corporation, is interested in developing “wind farms” for the production of electricity through the use of wind turbines, which are electricity generators powered by wind that would stand nearly 500 feet tall and dot the landscape at intervals yet to be determined by planning commissions.
Presently, the Riga Twp. Planning Commission is involved with drafting new zoning ordinances designed to regulate the emerging alternative energy industry. Ogden Twp. has no planning commission or zoning and any potential wind turbine construction in that township would be governed by state guidelines for wind turbine construction.
“We’re trying to lease land in Palmyra Twp.,” Ehlert said, “but not in the whole township, only in a strip two sections wide on the eastern border and two or three sections wide on the southern border. We want to stay away from the village [Palmyra] and we wanted to let the board know of our plans.”
Ehlert said that he or another company representative will be attending the next board meeting to answer any questions the board might have. “In the meantime, I would be happy to answer any questions you have right now, or you can call me if you think of anything else.” He said that the company has not contacted the Palmyra Planning Commission to discuss the topic yet or to get on the agenda but hopes to attend the meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 26, at 7 p.m. in the township office. “I’ve been talking to the Riga Planning Commission for two years now,” he said “but progress there has been slow.”
Palmyra Twp. Supervisor Jim Isley noted that the Riga Planning Commission was recently granted an extension on a moratorium that postponed action on zoning changes there to allow the commissioners to study the impact of wind farms longer. “How will that affect your progress?”
“It certainly delays us,” Elhert said. “There are some people that are trying to stall, hoping we will get tired and go away, but we’re not going away.”
Isley asked township building inspector Jim Bice how a request to build wind turbines in Palmyra Twp. would be handled.
“I don’t have the ordinances in front of me,” Bice said, “but it is my understanding that they would prohibit wind turbines at this point. We don’t have an ordinance that would permit them. If we did consider it, we would probably recommend an ordinance that would allow them and not issue a variance for each tower.”
“How should our plan for zoning proceed?” asked Isley.
“I would advise doing a lot of research and keep an eye on what Riga does,” said Bice. “There’s a lot to consider.”
“There has been a lot of misinformation in Riga,” Ehlert said. “They had a man there this week who had all sorts of claims against the wind farm up in the Thumb, but there were also a couple of people who got up and spoke who had signed up for the trip up there at the fair and at the Ogden meeting, and they had no negative comments.” Ehlert was referring to an offer by his company to charter a bus and drive anyone interested, at no expense, to the wind farms in the Ubly and Elkton area where wind farms had already been established so that people could see and hear wind turbines in action first hand.
Dale Terry, township treasurer asked Ehlert how the leasing campaign was going in Ogden Twp., where there are no prohibitive ordinances or planning commissions to deal with.
“We’re signing up more everyday,” said Elhert. “We already have an arrangement with Consumers to begin delivering power in 2012. In Ogden we can follow state regulations and probably even provide more of a setback than the state requires.”
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