Palmyra Township voters are going to the polls today, Tuesday, May 8, on a referendum on wind. Voters will have the choice of upholding an ordinance passed by the township board last October regulating wind energy facilities or turbines in the township or voting to nullify the ordinance. Voters will cast a yes vote if they want the ordinance to remain as it is. Voters will cast a no vote to show their desire to nullify the ordinance.
The current ordinance, a 14-page document crafted from information gathered from hours of public meetings and discussions and legal advice is what township officials call a “thoroughly researched” document.
The township board voted 4-1 Oct. 26 to approved the ordinance. Among several points in the ordinance, it requires wind turbines to be placed at least three times the distance of its length from an inhabitable dwelling or two times the length from the property lines.
According to Section 5.2 (B) 1) of the ordinance the closest any turbine could possibly be to a dwelling is 1,320 feet. Participating landowners would have the ability to reduce the setback to one and a half times the total height through written acceptance by the land owner that would be filed with the application to erect the turbine.
Turbines cannot be placed a distance less than two times the height from the nearest public road right of way and any that would be set along the U.S. 223 corridor would have to be set back a distance of three times the total height from the U.S. 223 right of way.
Supervisor Jim Isley said he hopes that people understand the siting distance for the turbines from houses, businesses and schools are a minimum of three times the height, not twice the height. It seems there is confusion over that point, he said.
Another point that has been argued in the wind turbine debate is the sound levels allowed. Under the current ordinance, on participating properties sound levels cannot exceed 50 decibels and on non-participating properties, it cannot exceed 45 decibels or the ambient sound pressure level plus five decibels, whichever is greater measured at any inhabitable structure.
Palmyra Township resident Laura Van Camp, who circulated the petition that was filed to get the referendum on the ballot, said she did so for several reasons.
Van Camp said one concern was that the township did not use an attorney who specialized in this particular type of law to help draft the ordinance.
“We only have one chance to make sure we do this correctly,” Van Camp said.
An ordinance that is too lenient or open could alter the landscape and community permanently. “We will have them for the rest of our lives,” she said.
Copyright 2012, River Raisin Publications, Inc. For the complete story by Melissa Burnor, please see the May 2, 2012, edition of The Advance.