Wind turbines have been the topic of heated debates in Riga Township, Mich., for over a year now.
Debates ranged from a six-month moratorium then to a cancelled meeting last week due to overcrowding at the township hall.
A rescheduled meeting took place Wednesday evening at the American Legion Hall in Blissfield, a building large enough to accommodate the upwards of 500 residents who spoke their mind for close to two hours on the varying height and noise levels of the wind farm in their backyards.
A zoning ordinance proposed by the planning commission was approved by the Riga Township Trustees, with a few amendments clearing the way for upwards of 120 wind turbines.
The restrictions of the turbines voted upon should be four-times the height of the turbines away from the property line of someone who does not own a wind turbine. A minimum separation distance should be equal to or greater than a one to one (1:1) ratio to the total height should be required between multiple wind turbine towers.
If there is a wind turbine on a piece of Riga Township0 property, and next to it there is a non-participating parcel with no wind turbine, then the turbine has to be four-times the height of the turbine away from it.
All setbacks required for the wind turbines are requested to be measured from the outside edge of the base of the tower to the nearest adjacent property line of a non-participating parcel.
Additionally, if there are two adjoining plots of land that contain turbines, those turbines need to be one to one (1:1) in total height away from each other.
Bottom line, if you don’t own a turbine on your property in Riga Township, the next nearest one will be four-times the height of one away from you. If you have a turbine, the next nearest one will be 1:1 times the height of the turbine away from you.
The revised ordinance also dealt with noise issues of the wind turbines. The decibel levels the turbines should generate during 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. is 40 dB(A). The revised zoning ordinance now states that no on-site wind may exceed 40 dB(A) at any adjacent property line of a non-participating parcel within township limits. During short term events, including but not limited to severe wind, snow or rain storms, if the ambient sound pressure level exceeds 40 dB(A), the standard shall be ambient dB(A) plus five (5) dB(A).
Though not entirely pleased, township residents were glad something was decided at Wednesday’s meeting. If someone does not file a referendum within the next week, the ordinance will go into effect.
Many companies looking to install the turbines will likely get started in early 2012.
FOX Toledo News reporter Jennifer Steck contributed to this report.