OGDEN TWP., Mich. —
Ogden Township officials voted 5-0 at a special meeting Monday to prohibit wind turbine construction in the township for six months while a citizen committee explores all aspects of bringing in such an alternative energy network.
The 6-month moratorium resolution the board passed before an audience of more than 75 people temporarily prevents construction of any wind turbines in Ogden Township, a process the board has been exploring for more than a year with Great Lakes Wind LLC.
In February, township officials appointed a citizens advisory committee – Russell Mead, Norris Klump, Gregg Stein, Eric Martis and Alice Clark – to identify and research pros and cons related to industrial wind turbines, then report to the board with recommendations on how to address those issues. Last week, the board agreed to pursue the 6-month moratorium after first failing to pass an 11-month version.
Blissfield-based Great Lakes Wind LLC, a partner in the wind turbine projects being sought in Lenawee County, is affiliated with Exelon Wind, a division of Exelon Power of Illinois. Other companies looking at southeast Michigan and northwest Ohio as sites for wind turbines are Orisol Energy US Inc. of Ann Arbor and Juwi Wind Corp., based in Cleveland. The companies are looking to locate wind turbines in four Lenawee County townships: Riga, Ogden, Palmyra and Fairfield. Currently, Ogden Township has no zoning regulations pertaining to wind turbines.
Residents expressed concerns Monday over the practicality and safety of not only having turbines in the township, but whether township officials could have towers placed on their own land and financially benefit from the electricity generated. Township supervisor James Goetz and clerk Phyllis Gentz have both signed leases to eventually have wind turbines erected on their respective properties.
Tony Pate of Blissfield said he contacted the state attorney general’s office over his concern about Goetz and Gentz having signed wind turbine lease agreements. Pate said a copy of the letter the attorney general’s office is drafting would be sent to the township and he would keep pursuing the matter.
Though Goetz and Gentz both acknowledged on Monday having signed wind turbine lease agreements, each declined to comment about a possible conflict of interest.
Goetz also proposed Monday that three more people be appointed to the citizen committee after he said he took complaints that the committee was not a fair representation of the community.
After several minutes of discussion among themselves about whether or not the committee was an accurate cross-section of opinions on the wind turbine issue, the board voted 3-2 to keep the number of committee members the same. Goetz and Gentz voted no on the matter.
Jamey Schmitz, president and CEO of WLMB-TV 40 in Toledo, said he is concerned about the potential impact a wind turbine complex in southern Lenawee County would have on television transmission signals, particularly when it comes to emergency alerts. Schmitz said a recent study the station conducted had concluded radio and TV signal frequencies would be altered by the spinning blades.
“Wind turbines will turn TV signals into confetti,” Schmitz said.
Ogden Township resident Kevin DeCatur said he understands both sides of the issue as he researches the matter for himself.
“It’s clear there are two different sides, and people have legitimate concerns,” Decatur said. “As a good citizen, I am doing research myself on it so I can speak intelligently on (the issue).”
DeCatur said he eventually plans to sign a lease for a wind turbine, but not before he has all the evidence laying out the benefits or detriments of doing so.
Township resident Ed Miller said he is concerned about the polarized discussions audience members were having at the meeting and in the community.
“Take a look around,” Miller said. “They’re not even here yet and neighbors are turning against each other.”
Trustee Mark VanDenBusche said the board and citizen committee has to take the time to examine all the pros and cons of having wind turbines in the township, from ensuring safe landing spots for medical helicopters to enabling farmers to properly dust their crops and having uninterrupted radio and television signals.
Board trustee Richard Marks said they cannot stop the presence of wind turbines, but they can regulate what goes in and where. He said the board hopes to have a regulatory ordinance in place by the end of the six-month moratorium.
Still, VanDenBusche said, the matter has to be thoroughly researched before that can take place.
“We’re not sitting here telling you it can’t happen,” VanDenBusche said. “We’re telling you we have one shot at getting this right.”
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