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Court showdown over wind testing tower delayed  

Credit:  By Dennis Pelham, Daily Telegram, www.lenconnect.com 28 June 2011 ~~

ADRIAN, Mich. – A hearing in a legal battle over a wind energy company’s weather tower in Fairfield Township was put off Monday after a judge denied the township’s motion for an immediate ruling.

The hearing was scheduled for Aug. 15, despite township attorney Carson Tucker’s objection to a delay.
A 262-foot tower built by Orisol Energy U.S. Inc. in late November is an ongoing violation, said Tucker of Farmington Hills.

“The township is very disturbed by this,” he said.

Orisol attorney Eric Guerin of Kalamazoo said the company also wants a ruling as soon as possible on its complaint against Fairfield Township.

Judge Margaret M.S. Noe said the August date is the earliest available for the hearing.

Fairfield Township has opposed the tower since soon after it was built on Arnold Highway without a zoning compliance review. A township official ruled in December the tower is in violation of the agricultural zoning ordinance. Orisol Energy submitted a request for a variance while continuing to claim the tower is legal. A variance was rejected after a public hearing on Feb. 16, just two days after the township board passed a one-year moratorium on siting wind turbines in the township.

The company’s meteorological tower is collecting weather data to help in the potential siting of wind turbines.
Guerin argued in a complaint filed in March that Orisol Energy’s tower is not a building as defined by Fairfield Township’s zoning ordinance and therefore not subject to height limits and property line set-backs for buildings.

He also argued the township has violated state law by excluding towers entirely from the township and that the zoning board of appeal’s decision is not supported by evidence.

Tucker filed a lengthy motion and brief on June 13, asking Noe to immediately rule the tower a nuisance and order it be torn down and Orisol Energy to pay fines and penalties.

“Local citizens and neighbors to the parcel upon which this 262-foot monstrosity sits, as well as other individuals who are potentially adversely affected by its existence, continue to suffer the ill effects thereof at the hands of an entity that has shown nothing but an ongoing and persistent willingness to ignore the rules and take its chances in this honorable court, all the while reaping the benefits of its unpermitted facility,” Tucker stated in his written motion.

He argued the court should not allow an exclusionary zoning argument to be raised because Orisol Energy built the tower before inquiring about zoning. Tucker also argued the zoning board of appeals acted lawfully when it ruled the tower violated the zoning ordinance’s 39-foot building height limit and 10-foot property line set back. The board also stated the zoning ordinance does not permit towers within two miles of each other and that granting a variance “would open the township up to others who could construct as they please, setting precedent.”

There is an existing tower within less than one mile on Arnold Highway, owned by Dominion Broadcasting. The Toledo television station objected to the weather tower as a potential interference to its television broadcast signal.

Orisol Energy did obtain permits for its tower from the Federal Aviation Administration and the Michigan Department of Transportation aeronautics division.

Source:  By Dennis Pelham, Daily Telegram, www.lenconnect.com 28 June 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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