ADRIAN, Mich. – Time may be running out for a wind energy company to complete a one-year study before Fairfield Township forces its meteorological tower torn down.
At a hearing Monday, Lenawee County Circuit Judge Margaret M.S. Noe clarified her Aug. 15 ruling on a zoning appeal for the tower built last November on Arnold Highway.
“Why the tower is still sitting, I don’t know,” Noe said.
The township does not need to seek an injunction to require the tower removed for violating the zoning ordinance, she said.
“I’m not granting any stay,” Noe said in response to a motion filed by Orisol Energy U.S. Inc.
Company attorney Eric Guerin of Kalamazoo said his client will ask what to do with its tower at this point.
“I think they (township officials) are going to take the tower down,” Noe responded. “Your client may want to take it down at lower cost.”
Township attorney Carson Tucker of Farmington Hills is to submit an order for court approval that would allow the township to hire a contractor to remove the tower if Orisol does not comply.
Guerin argued at the hearing he believed Noe had indicated in August that a separate injunction was needed to require demolition of the tower. He asked the court for a motion to stay any injunction while it appeals the case.
Noe said she was acting only as an appeal tribunal for the township’s decision that the 232-foot tower violates its zoning ordinance. The township’s zoning board of appeals denied a variance in February. The case was taken to circuit court at that point by Orisol.
Tucker argued for an order to allow the township to carry out enforcement action against the tower.
“It’s been almost a year since the tower was erected without permission,” he said. The tower and equipment mounted on it are still serving Orisol’s purpose in collecting data for a potential wind energy project, he said.
“You have the power to impose injunctive relief,” he told the court. He also requested the court impose daily fines and costs on Orisol.
The decision that the tower must be removed was made at the Aug. 15 hearing, Noe said.
In his motion for a stay of any order to remove the tower, Guerin argued it would cause “substantial damages” to the company. If a stay is not approved, he stated, the court should “at an absolute minimum” establish a time limit for compliance so Orisol can arrange to take bids for removing the tower.
An affidavit from Orisol’s director of North American operations, Cliff Williams, stated it would cost “in excess of $60,000 to remove the MET tower and install it in a new location.”
The cost of setting up and operating the tower on Arnold Highway is more than $90,000 so far, Williams stated.
“If the MET tower is required to be removed after having been in operation less than one year, the data collected to date would be of no value to Orisol,” he said in the Oct. 6 affidavit.
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