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Riga Twp. recall effort fails; nearby community ousts 2

BLISSFIELD, Mich. – Voters in Ogden Township Tuesday ousted their clerk and supervisor while the supervisor of neighboring Riga Township narrowly survived a recall election.

Ogden Township Supervisor James Goetz, and Clerk Phyllis Gentz, who were targeted in recall campaigns because of leases they signed with wind turbine developers, were voted out of office.

According to Ogden Township Trustee Richard Marks, the unofficial results in the recall of Mr. Goetz were 253-203. Mrs. Gentz lost her bid to stay in office 251-204, he said.

Riga Township Supervisor Jefferee Simon retained his position by 19 votes. According to township Clerk Karlene Goetz, 268 people wanted him recalled and 287 voted no.

The recall campaigns were tied to efforts to develop wind farms in the southeastern Lenawee County townships. About 200 turbines, many nearly 500 feet tall, are contemplated for the townships.

Mr. Simon was accused of using his influence to keep Kevon Martis from being reappointed to the township’s planning commission after Mr. Martis grew suspicious of the wind industry. Mr. Martis, now with an activist group called the Interstate Informed Citizens Coalition Inc., had been the commission’s vice chairman for six years.

The Riga Township board, of which Mr. Simon is a member, approved a zoning ordinance on July 6 that wind developers believe is too restrictive. Wind farm supporters are gathering signatures in hopes of forcing a Nov. 8 vote on the legislation.

Mr. Simon could not be reached Tuesday night.

In Ogden Township, Mr. Goetz and Mrs. Gentz were accused of conflicts of interest because they signed wind energy leasing agreements with developers.

Mrs. Gentz, 63, has been the township clerk for 13 years. She told The Blade Tuesday night that the recall election outcome will resolve the controversy that exists in the community over wind farm technology.

“The voters have spoken. I am still in favor of the wind project. I guess that we will have to see where it goes from here,” she said. “I hope that something can be worked out so that everybody can live with it. I feel that I did the best I could while I was here.”

Mr. Goetz could not be reached Tuesday night.

Mrs. Gentz and Mr. Goetz were part of a 5-0 vote to place a six-month moratorium on turbine installation in Ogden Township and were on the losing end of a 3-2 vote to expand a citizens advisory committee investigating the viability of turbines in Ogden Township.

Also in Lenawee County, Julie Berryman Adams, Jerry Gallatin, Thomas Faulhaber, Harry Steele, Don Taylor, and Chuck Jacobson advanced to the November election in the primary for Adrian City Commission. They will be running for three seats on the commission.