January 15, 2012

Resident asks V-C to terminate windmill lease

By Mike Spencer, Of The Enterprise staff, Leelanau Enterprise, leelanaunews.com 15 January 2012

A resident has asked the Northport Village Council to terminate a wind turbine lease it made with private investors seven months ago.

In a 20-minute presentation, Ron Schobel listed five reasons for voiding the June 9, 2011, agreement, including the lack of a wind energy ordinance and a bond from the investors. He also asked the council last Thursday to address 11 other items, including removing Bill Collins, one of the LCE investors, from the Village’s Planning Commission that issued the special use permit on Nov. 16.

Fred Steffens, Village Council president, said the council would take Schobel’s requests under advisement. No other comments were made.

Schobel thanked the council for listening to his concerns and asked that he be notified when his requests would be considered.

“I would like to be notified when those motions will be acted upon so I may attend and take notes and effectively submit it for legal review,” Schobel said.

Schobel, who believes the sewer plant was built too big and placed a heavy burden on the village taxpayers, said he did not want the windmill to become a liability too.

The five-points Schobel gave for terminating the lease were:

• It does not require the lessee to provide a bond to cover costs of dismantling and removing the wind turbine or returning the site to its original condition.

• It only provides $1 million liability insurance when damages could easily exceed that amount.

• It has risks and the economic benefits have not been publicly disclosed and evaluated.

• There is no wind energy ordinance to govern the installation and operation of a commercial wind turbine.

• The windmill atop a 200-foot hill, towering 375-feet over the shoreline will be a blight and is not in character of a rural lakeside village.

Schobel also listed 11 other things he would like to see the council do, starting with the publication of all 15 investors.

“This process is feasible and could eliminate appearance of impropriety,” said Schobel, asking for council members to declare their interests and any known to them by members of the Northport Leelanau Township Utilities Authority (NLTUA).

Schobel also wanted to know the NLTUA’s involvement in the wind turbine project and whether it signed the agreement or if NLTUA agreed to let the village act on its behalf. He asked for facts showing how Northport would benefit from the turbine project.

Schobel requested a moratorium on future wind turbine projects until an ordinance could be adopted controlling them.

“The benefits of a tight wind energy ordinance not only protects the people and the local government, but it also governs what may be an onslaught of wind energy investors trying to make a profit via small governing entities like Northport,” Schobel said.

The 11th point called for the council to make a motion to remove investor Collins from the Village Planning Commission.

“Failure to do so also constitutes impropriety and a dereliction of duties,” Schobel said.

The Planning Commission did vote at its regular meeting on Jan. 3 to hold a public hearing on a new wind energy ordinance on Feb. 7.

URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2012/01/15/resident-asks-v-c-to-terminate-windmill-lease/