HURON COUNTY – Residents in four Huron County townships will go to the polls Tuesday to decide the fate of two proposals that would clear the way for future wind farm development in the Thumb.
Residents Against Wind, a group of property owners in Huron County, is urging residents to vote “no” on the proposals, which, if passed, will create two wind energy districts.
One district would cover Bloomfield, Rubicon and Sigel townships, and the other would cover McKinley township.
Officials from those townships passed the proposals in July, but the anti-wind group collected 1,800 signatures to force the issue to a vote of the people.
“It’s not just a little wind farm here and there,” said Charles Parcells, a member of Residents Against Wind. “If you don’t want it, if you’re worried that being surrounded by windmills might lower the value of your house, and lower the quality or your lifestyle, and rural life, then send a message and vote ‘no.'”
Only registered voters of the townships involved will vote on the proposals, according , according to Huron County Clerk Peggy A. Koehler. About 7,000 people live in the four townships.
Edward Korleski, spokesman for Residents Against Wind, opposes the creation of energy districts mainly because some money to develop wind farms comes from the U.S. government.
“They will never reach a point of financial viability,” said Korleski, who does not live in Huron County, but grew up in the area and still has family there.
“We feel the U.S. government will have no choice but to start cutting off subsidization’s – quite frankly – for frivolous, feel good activities, such as wind turbines.”
The Thumb currently has two wind farms – one near Ubly and the other near Elkton – that sport 72 wind turbines.
Korleski – president of Westwind International Inc., an international provider of logistics to the defense industry – said creating wind energy districts will lead to more wind farms, which are still a gamble.
“There are other issues besides the visual ugliness,” said Korleski. “It’s remarkable misinformation. A lot of people are very excited about it because they see free money.”
Russell R. Lundberg, Huron County’s director of building and zoning, argues that establishing wind energy districts is simply a matter of laying the groundwork for any future wind farm developments.
Lundberg, who supports the creation of the districts, compared it to a zoning change from residential to commercial.
“It doesn’t establish anything besides a wind farm could go in that area,” he said. “It doesn’t change any written part of the zoning ordinance at all.”
Parcells, whose family has owned land in Huron County since 1856, sees it differently, though. He said changing the zoning is just the first step in transforming the culture of Michigan’s thumb.
“It would change not just the look, but the atmosphere in a very large way,” Parcells said. “The closest thing I can compare it to – driving at night among windmills – is like being among an oil refinery.
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