ESCANABA – As the potential for wind-generated power on the Garden Peninsula continues to move forward, residents let their concerns be heard during a meeting of the Delta County Planning Commission Monday.
One of the concerns aired included the set-back distance of wind towers from homes and property lines.
Currently, Michigan has no regulations concerning set-backs for towers; communities must establish their own zoning ordinances and regulations on wind towers.
Clifford Stallings, a resident of Garden Township, said he had just learned of the possibility of wind towers being placed on the Garden Peninsula this past fall.
“The township needs to investigate this more. Towers that are located in high traffic areas can’t be heard. But in an area such as Garden, there could be an impact from the noise pollution generated by the wind towers,” said Stallings.
He said that in Wisconsin, where wind towers are located in proximity to residential areas, there were greater numbers of complaints of migraine headaches and sleep deprivation.
“Some real investigation needs to be done, Heritage (a wind generation company) should not be able to come in and put these up. Once (the towers) go up, they don’t come down. So please go slow and review the information before moving forward,” said Stallings.
Dave Price, also a resident of Garden Township, said when he learned of the intent of Heritage Sustainable Energy to install wind towers on the peninsula he became concerned because the topography of the area is similar to Brown County, Wis. Brown County is considering banning wind tower installation due to the potential for ground water contamination, according to Price.
“We all agree that any ordinance or regulation being considered should be kept simple and enforceable. A majority of people want to see this come into the area,” said Ron Collins, also a resident of Garden Township.
Michelle DeWitt, of the Central Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Commission (CUPPAD), explained there are no guidelines within the state that deal with wind towers.
“Currently, the state legislation is considering a property zoning enabling act. (This) would allow citizens to regulate the placement of wind towers, in addition to providing the potential for on-site towers to have a set back of 1.1 times the height of the tower,” said DeWitt.
She said the planning commission could format its own ideas concerning set backs, and zoning districts for the placement of towers within agricultural areas where a lot of open space is available.
The planning commission formed a five-member sub-committee to deal with the issue of creating a zoning ordinance.
The ordinance will then be presented to the Delta County Board of Commissioners for review and potential adoption.
At a glance
Nearly two years of various wind studies have unveiled substantial interest in harvesting wind power in the Garden Peninsula area.
Best known for its nearly 2,000-acre Stoney Corners Wind Farm Project near Cadillac, Mich., Heritage Sustainable Energy, of Traverse City, has leased approximately 10,000 acres throughout the Garden Peninsula, including Garden and Fairbanks Township.
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