BAD AXE – The Huron County Board of Commissioners suspended discussion on a resolution to approve a wind district for the proposed Deerfield Wind Farm.
The Deerfield Wind Farm, which could host up to 100 turbines in the northeast portion of the county, consists of about 24,000 acres and has 220 participating landowners. It’s being developed by RES Americas.
Because Commissioner John Bodis was absent from Tuesday’s meeting, Commissioner John Nugent proposed the board wait until its next regular meeting to vote on the resolution. He said this vote is too big to hold when all commissioners are not present.
Commissioner Steve Vaughan said a lot of money already has been invested in this project, and he was concerned that holding things up could open the county up to litigation.
During last week’s Huron County Planning Commission, there were residents in certain areas of the proposed project boundaries that didn’t want to be included in the project area, Vaughan said. Because planners were looking out for the good of all, the planning commission amended the boundaries to remove that section from the wind district, he said.
Given the planning commission’s review and final recommendation, Vaughan didn’t see any reason for the board to not approve this proposed district.
The district is located on about 18 square miles in Dwight Township, about 1 square mile in Lincoln Township, 6 square miles in Bloomfield Township and about 20 square miles in Huron Township. RES Americas is developing a second project, Pheasant Run Wind Farm, on the southwestern portion of the county. The county approved that project in April.
RES Americas Development Manager Brad Lila told county commissioners the application for the Deerfield Wind Farm was filed more than a year ago, and the company needs to conduct studies to proceed through the permitting process. The cost of that work is substantial, he said.
Charlie Daum, Geronimo Wind Energy development director, said in this industry, whether it’s one week or one day, “waiting hurts,” because delays cause uncertainty, which affects investments and can ultimately affect whether a project will be created.
“These timelines in our industry are very tight,” Daum said.
The majority of residents at Tuesday’s meeting wanted commissioners to look past the amount of money that comes with wind development. Jeanne Henry of Lake Township said while there are people who favor wind developments, there are others that are upset, and it’s not possible for them to go against wind developers. As a result, all those people have to help them is the board of commissioners, she said.
Carl Duda, a Lincoln Township farmer, said the bottom line is money for landowners and power companies. He asked the board to look at the 40 or 45 percent of parcels in Huron County that aren’t under lease with wind companies.
“Forget about the money,” he said, asking commissioners to change the setback requirements so they are from property lines, rather than dwellings.
Geronimo Wind Energy Development Assistant David Shiflett said there are 7,551 wind documents recorded with the Huron County Register of Deeds, and more than 3,000 of those documents are leases. He said the board is not hearing from the silent majority, which are farmers who were out working in the fields during Tuesday’s meeting.
In the end, Lila told commissioners he’s not opposed if the board wants to wait until its next regular meeting to vote on the new district.
All but Horny and Vaughan voted to suspend discussion until the board’s next meeting, which will follow a 9 a.m. meeting of the whole Oct. 25 in Room 305 of the County Building.
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