BAD AXE – The Huron County Board of Commissioners will not get the final say in the conditional site plan approval granted last week by the Huron County Planning Commission to DTE Energy for its McKinley Wind Farm.
Russ Lundberg, of the Huron County Building and Zoning Office, said pursuant to Section 5.1 of the county’s wind zoning ordinance, the planning commission grants final approval of site plan reviews. Once a site plan is reviewed and approved by the planning commission, a building permit is issued.
On Thursday, the Huron County Planning Commission held a special meeting to undertake the site plan review process for the McKinley Wind Farm. The development will house nine General Electric turbines that will be sited within a 2,384-acre project area that is generally bound by Campbell, Gagetown, Filion and Caseville roads.
DTE’s site plan review is being done in two parts. Part 1 was held Thursday night, and DTE officials expect to submit Part 2 in late September or early October. Officials noted the reason DTE Energy wanted to do the site plan review in two phases is because the company wants to get some preliminary work – like the installation of access roads and connection lines – started this fall.
The planning commission voted in favor of the conditional approval. However, the matter will not go to the board of commissioners. Lundberg said the board of commissioners grants final approval for wind overlay districts, not for site plan reviews, per the county’s wind zoning ordinance.
The ordinance states the only time a site plan goes before the board of commissioners for review and possible approval is when the site plan does not fully comply with the standards in the zoning ordinance and modifications are needed. The modifications have to be based on a recommendation by the planning commission that the modifications are in the best interest of the county and the applicant. Where a modification is requested, the board of commissioners has to hold a public hearing prior to consideration of the modified site plan, the ordinance states.
It was anticipated the conditional approval of DTE’s site plan review would go before the board of commissioners during its next regular meeting, which is set to follow a 9 a.m. meeting of the whole on Tuesday.
Though that won’t be the case, Board of Commissioners Chairman Ron Wruble said he anticipates some major discussion regarding wind developments in Huron County still will be held.
“Due to the uncertainty of the tax structure, I anticipate much discussion at our board meeting on Tuesday,” he said.
Wruble is referring to support from lawmakers in Lansing to eliminate the personal property tax, which is the only tax the county and local units of government receive from wind developments.
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