Mason County’s Planning Commission meets tonight to consider how far away from homes large wind turbines should be kept. That question is being hotly debated up and down the coast of northern Lake Michigan.
Large scale wind projects in Benzie, Mason and Manistee Counties have neighbors upset. They say the peace and quiet of the countryside will be destroyed by large windmills, and they want zoning rules that keep turbines more than a mile from neighboring houses.
Under the current zoning rules a house must be a little more than 1000 feet away. Evelyn Bergaila, who lives in the area Consumers wants to build, says that would be noisy and possibly dangerous.
“A thousand feet from a home doesn’t even protect a home from failure of a turbine. When they fail they throw pieces 1,600 feet,” she says
Developers of wind farms say 1,000 foot setbacks are enough. They say problems with windmills are greatly exaggerated by people who want to ban them altogether.
Tonight planning commissioners in Mason County will review a proposal to require setbacks of 1.25 miles. Under the proposed rule windmills could be closer to a home if the homeowner was part of the project, meaning he or she makes a deal with the energy company.
In Manistee and Benzie Counties, critics of wind farms are also asking for rules requiring a mile between homes and large windmills. Some local governments there are passing moratoriums to allow more time to address issues related to large-scale wind development.
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