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Merritt Township supervisor looks to heal community wounds following wind turbine decision  

Credit:  By MacKenzie Burger, www.mlive.com 22 February 2012 ~~

MERRITT TWP.— Dave Schabel, township supervisor, expects a busy day in the office following the Merritt Township Planning Commision’s decision late last night to reject NextEra Energy’s attempt to bring nine wind turbines to the area.

“I just hope that everybody can accept what the Planning Commission decided and see it as a compromise,” Schabel said. “My door is always open to the community – this has been very hard on people for two years.”

The Merritt Township Planning Commission held a public hearing at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday to listen to concerns and comments before voting to reject NextEra Energy’s request for a special use permit to bring nine turbines to the community. The motioned did allow other components of a grid wind energy system to be built: a substation, anemometer and underground electrical wiring.

Schabel estimated that more than 400 people attended the meeting. The public comment section lasted until after 11 p.m.

“Nobody was cut off and everybody respected everybody’s opinion,” Schabel said. “I didn’t want it to turn into a circus.”

Members of the Planning Commission met in pairs weekly – so as not to reach a quorum – to gather information from Spicer Group for Bay County engineers, NextEra officials and other townships with wind facilities.

“This was the toughest decision they had to make, and hopefully there won’t be anymore like this,” Schabel said. “It’s heavy pressure, does everyone agree with it, no, but they did the best they could.”

Commission members visted wind turbines in Ubly, Pigeon and Gratiot Township.

“They studied it thoroughly,” said John McQuillan, Merritt Township attorney. “That’s why the Planning Commission is appointed to make this decision.”

Dee VanDenBoom, Merritt Township resident, was disappointed with the decision but is hoping the community can move forward.

“We’re peacemakers,” VanDenBoom said. “I hope that people can come together as friends and neighbors again.”

Source:  By MacKenzie Burger, www.mlive.com 22 February 2012

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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