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County officials discuss 3-mile turbine setback from shoreline

BAD AXE – The idea of restricting wind turbines from within 3 miles of the shoreline, as well as allowing county-zoned townships to prohibit wind developments in their jurisdictions, was discussed during Thursday’s Huron County Board of Commissioners meeting.

Commissioners discussed creating a resolution asking the Huron County Planning Commission to consider revising the county’s wind energy ordinance to include a number of factors, including a wind turbine setback of at least 3 miles from the shoreline.

The revisions were proposed by 7th District Commissioner John A. Nugent, who represents Dwight, Hume, Lake, Lincoln, Pointe Aux Barques and Port Austin townships.

He also proposed restricting the height of turbines within the vicinity near the shore that’s out of that 3-mile range of the shoreline.

Nugent said a large portion of the area’s income comes from tourists, and he doesn’t want turbines to disturb the shoreline or negatively affect residential property values. He said the shoreline has the heaviest concentration of valuable residential property outside of cities and villages.

Board Chairman Ron Wruble agreed setbacks should be looked at because turbines are being built taller and larger. He also recommended having properties that are adjacent to where a turbine is sited be participants in the overall wind development.

Another revision Nugent proposed would allow for county-zoned townships to opt out of having wind turbines in their district. He said this is something he’s been asked about by his constituents, and there is a township in his district that is under county zoning but does not want to house any wind turbines in the future.

Commissioner David Peruski, who represents Bingham, Grant, Paris, Sheridan and Sherman Townships, agreed with having the planning commission review the wind ordinance. He said planners should also be asked to look at the noise requirements in the ordinance.

Also during Thursday’s meeting, Wruble announced a letter to wind developers currently is being drafted. He said it will ask whether developers will support efforts to help implement legislation that would replace the personal property tax if it is eliminated. He said the letter will ask for – not demand – a written commitment from wind developers.

A motion authorizing the board chairman to sign and send the letter is listed on the agenda of the board’s next regular meeting.

Wind energy developments took center stage at last week’s board of commissioners meeting. Commissioners held a lengthy discussion about a resolution that would impose a moratorium on any new wind overlay districts until the State of Michigan makes a determination regarding the various proposals to eliminate the personal property tax.

Discussion was suspended and the resolution is on the agenda of the board’s next regular meeting, which is set to follow a 9 a.m. meeting of the whole in Room 305 Tuesday in the County Building.