A moratorium on wind turbine applications and amendments to the Elbridge Township wind turbine ordinance are being sought following an informational meeting at the Elbridge Township Hall Sunday.
Organizers collected signatures on two petitions – one calling for a moratorium on wind turbine applications to allow time for additional regulations to be adopted into the township wind turbine ordinance. The second deals with amending the ordinance to protect the health, safety and welfare of the community and to build a premier wind energy conversion facility to ensure public safety.
“We’re just concerned,” organizer Jeff Buter said. “There’s just a few pieces in our (ordinance) language we’d like to see a little different.”
Buter said Monday he counted 72 signatures on the petition to amend the ordinance, and he hadn’t finish counting the signatures on the moratorium request.
“I’m quite certain there’s a lot, lot more on the other one,” Buter said.
The petitions were expected to be presented to the Elbridge Township board Tuesday night. Elbridge Supervisor Walt Wheeler didn’t attend the informational meeting and had not seen the petitions. He said the township will have to wait and see what the petitions say and if they are presented, Wheeler expected the board to accept them for tabulation and decide after that point what the township should do, if anything.
The township adopted a wind turbine ordinance in 2008 after being approached by Michigan Wind LLC and John Deere Wind Energy about a $150 million, 30 turbine wind farm. Elbridge’s ordinance was modeled after Huron County’s ordinance with Elbridge’s ordinance requiring that electrical lines be buried 4 instead of 3 feet. No applications have been received.
Approximately 70 people attended the informational meeting where presenters showed the potential detrimental effects of wind farms, including noise, shadow flicker, and declining property values. Carey Shineldecker of Mason County’s Riverton Township showed several videos, which included interviews with people in Wisconsin and Fox Island, Maine living within wind farm areas. The interviews encouraged people to do research before wind turbines are built, and emphasized that people can’t get a feeling of what it’s like living within a wind farm until they experience it around the clock.
David Roseman of Golden Township recapped the Scandia Wind offshore wind turbine proposal from last year. He said people need to make rational, scientific guesses before proceeding and that the state and federal governments bought into the wind turbine hype. He pointed out wind generated electricity is inconsistent and will still require other electrical generation forms to make up the difference. He compared throttling gas turbine generators up and down to city and highway driving with the steady speed being more efficient.
“People have to get involved and do the homework,” Roseman said.
Engineer John Krienbrink briefly addressed scales used in measuring sound and the potential effects wind turbines could have on the inner ear. Claybanks Township Planning Commission Chairman Art Grumm encouraged people to study both sides of the wind turbine issue and to read between the lines to find the answer. Claybanks also had a one-year moratorium on wind turbine development while the planning commission drafted a new wind turbine ordinance.
“The problem is finding unbiased information, and it’s not easy,” Grumm said.
Grumm also encouraged people to look carefully at lease agreements or memorandums with wind turbine developers because they can often contain language that can eliminate any recourse against the developers if property owners should develop some medical issue from wind turbines.
“If you have an issue, you can’t even complain about it,” Grumm said.
Former Elbridge Planning Commission member Craig Herremans said he favored wind farm development when the ordinance was adopted in 2008. Herremans said he changed his mind when approached about signing a petition about a month ago and began to do more research, including talking directly with the people from Wisconsin. His concerns include health effects, effects on animals, stray voltage and bee pollination.
“We should learn from them mistakes, and not make mistakes in the future,” Herremans said.
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