BAD AXE – He ran out of time.
On Nov. 3, Lincoln Township resident Carl Duda filed a notice of intent to file a petition to put the Deerfield Wind Energy Overlay District up for a vote of the people within the county’s zoning jurisdiction. Duda then had 30 days to collect a minimum of 677 signatures and file the petition with the Huron County Clerk’s Office. He had until the beginning of this week, but no petition was turned in, according to Huron County Clerk Lori S. Neal-Wonsowicz.
While Duda did not collect enough signatures for the petition, it wasn’t necessarily because he couldn’t get enough people to sign, he said.
“Due to the timing with fall harvest, which limited my time to get out with the petitions to collect signatures earlier, I ran out of time to collect the 677 signatures the county clerk told me were needed to have this issue go to (a vote),” Duda wrote in a letter to the editor to the Huron Daily Tribune, which was dated Nov. 28. “I had the help of a couple other area farmers who also had to get their crops harvested before they could help, as well as a few other local individuals.”
He said he appreciated the help and effort by those individuals.
“Seeing that we did collect more than half of what was needed in less than two weeks (of) circulating the petitions in only seven of the 14 county-zoned townships, I believe there are many folks in Huron County who would have appreciated the chance to vote again and send a message to our officials that better regulations are needed before more turbines are allowed to be built.” Duda’s letter stated.
Duda granted permission to the Huron Daily Tribune to have his letter to the editor used for a story.
The Huron County Board of Commissioners approved the Deerfield wind overlay district, which could host up to 100 wind turbines in the northeast portion of the county, on Oct. 25. The district was requested by RES Americas, which is planning two wind developments in the Thumb.
RES Americas applied for the district in September 2010, and encountered some difficulty in getting it approved. There were some county commissioners who were hesitant to approve new wind districts until certain areas of the county’s wind ordinance were amended and uncertainty regarding the personal property tax was resolved at the state level.
But after meeting with RES Americas Development Manager Brad Lila and Huron Township Supervisor Bill Haas in October, the majority of the board felt comfortable with approving the wind district.
Duda was one of those opposed to the new wind district. He has shared concerns with a group he is working with in efforts to get the referendum on ballot, he previously told the Huron Daily Tribune. The group is similar to Residents Against Wind, which asked residents to vote no on the creation of the two wind districts that were on the November 2010 general election ballot. Voters approved the two ballot proposals, 60 percent to 40 percent.
Duda previously told the Tribune he filed the notice of intent to pick up where Mildred Duda, his cousin, left off last year. She was the one who filed the notice of intent to get the two proposals on the November 2010 ballot because she felt people should have a right to vote on this issue, he said.
In his letter to the editor, Duda stated many petition signers had “a story to tell.”
“One signer had friends who were participating property owners in a wind development up and running,” the letter stated. “Her friends told her that it was different from what they had been told when they signed up their land and now had regrets.”
Duda’s letter went on to say another signer was upset because the adjacent landowners had signed up the farmland surrounding the signer’s home, as well as all their other farmland, but they did not sign up the land around their own home, ensuring the participating landowners would not have turbines close to their home.
“Many people who had signed the 2010 petitions were reluctant to sign again, due to the pressure they experienced after signing last time,” his letter stated. “A few asked if anyone would see their signature on the petition and declined to sign when they were told it was public information.”
Duda’s letter stated several of those who signed the petitions thanked the circulators for their effort, expressing their wishes that things would change at the county level and “that the Huron County Planning Commission is not working for the whole community.”
Duda needed to collect a minimum of 677 signatures because the petition had to contain the signatures of at least 15 percent of the total number of individuals living in the zoning jurisdiction who voted during the last gubernatorial election. According to the Huron County Clerk’s Office, there were 4,512 votes cast during the November 2010 gubernatorial election, and 15 percent amounted to 677 (rounded off).
If the petition would have been filed, and it was deemed adequate by the county clerk, voters in the 14 county-zoned townships would have acted on the referendum either at the next regular election or at a special election called for voting on the referendum. The next regular election is the Republican presidential primary election Feb. 28, 2012.
“With a little more time, I believe we would not only have had another opportunity to vote on this wind district, but that the vote would have sent a resounding message to our officials that the majority of the people want change,” Duda’s letter stated.
The Deerfield wind district consists of about 24,000 acres and has 220 participating landowners in Dwight, Lincoln, Bloomfield and Huron townships.
Reporter Kate Hessling contributed to this article.