RIGA TWP., Mich. – Opponents of wind development in Lenawee County scored a pair of victories in Riga and Ogden townships Tuesday.
In Riga Township, residents voted 440 to 236 to uphold an ordinance that wind turbine supporters say effectively bans turbines in the township.
The vote means that the turbine ordinance enacted July 6 by the township board will stay in effect. That ordinance requires turbines to be no less than four times their own height from non-participating properties and also limits noise levels to 40 decibels between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. and 45 decibels between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.
In Ogden Township, the candidates backed by wind turbine opponents won the races for township supervisor and township clerk.
Turnout was high in both townships: 65 percent in Ogden and 63 percent in Riga.
“We have proven that by wide majorities, people in both Ogden and Riga Township have said ‘no’ to leaders with conflict of interest and ‘no’ to unsafe siting of industrial turbines,” said Kevon Martis of Riga Township, a director of the Interstate Informed Citizens Coalition, which has been opposing wind developers’ plans in the area.
“We’re very pleased with the results, obviously,” said Josh Nolan of Sylvania, Ohio, another IICC director, who was at the Riga Township hall to watch as the results were counted and announced.
“We’ve been saying all along that the people of Riga Township wanted to be safe from the dangers of improperly sited industrial wind turbines, and with the results tonight, we’re guaranteed they will be,” Nolan said.
Paul Wohlfarth of Riga Township, president of Riga Residents for Wind, said the voters have spoken. Even though his side lost the referendum, he said, at least township voters got to vote in a secret ballot where they could speak their minds without being pressured.
Wohlfarth said he feels turbine opponents spread inaccurate information during the campaign.
“There was a lot of misinformation out there,” he said. “There were a lot of scary stories that I thought weren’t factual.”
Wohlfarth said there was a lot of outside influence during the campaign.
“A lot of the opposition doesn’t live in our township and they’re better organized than we are,” he said.
“Despite the claims to the contrary, the IICC is simply a group of local people, all who live in the impact zone of the proposed turbine development, who have used their own resources and gifts to educate and inform our fellow citizens, and I could not be more proud of them,” he said.
In Ogden Township, Richard Marks defeated Kevin DeCatur for supervisor, 309-177. Marks had been appointed to the seat after former supervisor Jim Goetz was recalled in August.
Alice Clark defeated Carrie Hulett for clerk, 302-186. Clark also had been appointed to her seat after former clerk Phyllis Gentz was recalled.
Both Marks and Clark were backed by wind turbine opponents.
“We, the township, need to move forward to enact a responsible police power ordinance that will meet the needs of the landowners, leaseholders, developers and, most importantly, the residents of the township in general,” Marks said.
Ogden Township does not have zoning, but is considering a police power ordinance that could be used to regulate turbines.
Daily Telegram news editor David Panian contributed to this report.
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