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Wind turbine ordinance approval begins in Palmyra Township


The Palmyra Township Board is nearing completion of its work on developing a wind turbine ordinance.

Following an hour of public comments Thursday, the board began approval of the ordinance section by section. The township planning commission approved the ordinance in August and the township board has been discussing it, amending it and hearing more public comment.

A special meeting has been set for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 18, for the board to continue the work. After approving the sections and amendments, the board will then vote whether to approve the entire ordinance. The Lenawee County Planning Commission will be asked to review the ordinance at its meeting Oct. 20.

Great Lakes Wind LLC and Exelon Wind are proposing the siting of wind turbines in southeastern Lenawee County. Palmyra is one of the townships selected.

Public comments covered many of the same issues covered at previous hearings. Laura Van Camp of Palmyra again asked the board to sign a pledge of impartiality. In signing the document, she said, the board members would agree not to lease any personally owned property to a commercial wind developer for five years following the passage of any wind turbine zoning ordinance.

“It is crucial our representatives avoid even the appearance of impropriety,” Van Camp said. “Such a pledge would assure that any decision you make and votes you cast will reflect your impression of the best interest of all citizens.”

She said the pledge would go a long way toward eradicating possible conflict of interest and what she termed “back-room deals that are currently being deliberated.”

Alana Cook of Palmyra was also critical of the planning commission’s work. She attended several meetings at which the ordinance was discussed. Cook said she was upset at how the questions were addressed.

“Things were talked about and the questions would be posed to the wind developers,” she said. “Basically, ‘What’s in your best interest?’ That to me is frightening as it gives the impression – whether it’s true or not – that the wind developers are telling us what to do, they are telling our township how things should be done.”

Several members of the Great Lakes Wind LLC board also spoke. Tony Urban of Blissfield Township urged the board to approve the ordinance as drafted by the planning commission after more than six months of work.

“It is in line with ordinances for other areas with similar land use where wind energy projects have successfully been developed or are currently being built,” Urban said. “The ordinance strikes a balance that is protective of the community while allowing land owners to make legal use of their land, allowing Palmyra Township to be a leader in our energy future and allowing Palmyra Township, local schools and the county to capture economic benefits of the wind project.”

Frank Novak of Blissfield said he had a different perspective on the issue. Novak, who also owns property in Palmyra Township, said wind is a natural resource and one of the cleanest forms of electricity.

“Mankind did not create wind, or sunshine or rain water. The Good Lord doesn’t charge us for any of it,” he said. “To me, it’s logical to have wind farms. I’m in favor of a reasonable ordinance. I think it’s about time.”

John Bulloch, business development manager for Exelon, said this ordinance is more stringent than some others in Michigan. He said the limits set in the ordinance are very protective.

“This process has been going on a long time. I think the planning commission put a lot of good work into it,” Bulloch said.

Planning commission chairman Jim Leonard read a statement from Tim Anderson of the Region II Planning Commission that advocated approval of the ordinance.

“The ordinance appears to strike a balance between the health and safety, welfare and quality of life of area residents and the regulation of recognized land use without being prohibitive,” Leonard said.