Arcadia Wind Study Group announced in a press release Aug. 2 it is seeking judicial review of Central Michigan University’s failure to comply with Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act.
AWSG filed for information on May 5 relating to a public survey on the opinions of property owners in portions of Benzie and Manistee Counties who would be affected by Duke Energy’s proposal to install 112 industrial wind turbines throughout the region.
The mail and telephone survey was conducted by CMU on behalf of Duke Energy in March and April.
Jesse L. Williams, the attorney representing AWSG, said there are several townships in the community in the process of enacting zoning for wind power, and the survey information is a “public interest” pertinent to the townships.
CMU requested a “good faith deposit” of $616.79 in May, half of the estimated cost to process the request. Williams said AWSG provided the full amount of $1,233.59 to prevent delay.
The Michigan FOIA requires public bodies to respond to requests for public records within 15 business days. CMU responded to AWSG’s request within the requirement on May 27, and indicated 1,552 pages of documents had been collected and identified as responsive. However, only 157 pages were turned over in 12 weeks since the information request.
Williams said another 300 documents were turned over the day after the judicial review was filed.
CMU officials declined to comment.
AWSG’s request for judicial review indicates two separate violations of the FOIA. It alleges CMU arbitrarily and capriciously violated FOIA by not disclosing at least 1,395 pages of uncontested material related to the request. It also alleges CMU was in violation by refusing to disclose the final report and other public documents related to the study.
Williams said this is a sensitive issue involving public and private property, but he believes an outcome will be reached that will “make everyone happy.” He said the judicial review is not an attack on CMU, and he does not see a reason why it won’t be resolved peacefully.
“I will hope that we can all talk about that and resolve that,” he said.
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