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New wind district OK’d  

Credit:  By Kelly Jerome, Tribune Editor, Huron Daily Tribune, www.michigansthumb.com 1 April 2011 ~~

HURON COUNTY – After relatively little public comment, the nine-member Huron County Planning Commission voted unanimously to approve the Pheasant Run Wind Energy Overlay District Wednesday evening during a special meeting and public hearing.

Pheasant Run could be the future home to a wind farm located within portions of Fairhaven, Sebewaing, Brookfield, Winsor, Oliver and Grant townships. Wednesday’s vote gave RES Americas the go ahead to move forward with the planned district within Grant, Winsor and Fairhaven townships, said Huron County Building and Zoning Director Russ Lundberg.

Sebewaing, Brookfield and Oliver townships will have their own public hearings to finalize zoning approval, he said.

“The other townships will take care of their business sometime in the near future … presumably sometime in the summer,” he said.

Before the vote, vice-chair Fred Hasen and board members Clark Brock, Ervin Haley and Joel Weber disclosed they have wind energy leases, but they would not refrain from voting on this district because the land they own is not in the district.

Property owners and residents living in or within a half mile of the proposed overlay district in those townships will receive notice of a future public hearing in the mail, and notice also will be published in the local media.

Brad Lila, of RES Americas, addressed the large crowd before the public hearing began. He said confirming the overlay zone is just the first step in a long process the developer must go through before any ground is broken.

“Before we can show up on your doorstep with a site permit application in hand, we have a lot of hoops that we have to jump through. We have a lot of studies that we have to do,” he said. “… Each and every one of these studies is very time intensive, requires a lot of resources and, quite honestly, is quite expensive.”

RES does not want to start those intensive, costly studies before it knows the project can legally move forward, Lila said.

“…We’re hoping to get some confirmation from the county that indeed our projects rest within county-approved overlay zones,” he said.

Lila reminded the board and the audience that when construction begins for the Pleasant Run project, RES will hire about 300 employees. After the turbines are built, five to eight full-time staff members will be required to maintain the them. A similar number of workers will be hired to complete and maintain a second project RES is pursuing in the Thumb, Deerfield Wind Farm, which is being planned for the northeast portion of the county.

“The entire investment for RES, with our two projects, is going to be in the range of approximately $1 billion, so we really believe that this is a real opportunity for Huron County,” he said.

Before opening the public hearing, Planning Commission Chairman Ted Sheldon set the ground rules for public comments. Those who own property within the boundaries of the proposed district had the first opportunity to speak, followed by those who own property within a half mile of the proposed district, and finally, anyone else who wished to speak. Each speaker was limited to three minutes.

Read the full version of this article in the Huron Daily Tribune or online in our e-Edition.

Source:  By Kelly Jerome, Tribune Editor, Huron Daily Tribune, www.michigansthumb.com 1 April 2011

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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