CHANDLER TOWNSHIP – The Chandler Township Board of Directors has voted unanimously to reject a proposed Public Act 425 land transfer agreement sought by Lake Township property owners with land leased for wind energy.
The vote, which took place at the Township’s regular Monday night meeting, followed a period of public participation that included heated comments from both sides of the issue.
Tim Lalley of Lake Township said he is frustrated with the actions of his neighbors who want to transfer their property which surrounds his home.
“I will be one of those 1-acre parcels that gets consumed by this land transfer,” Lalley said. “If they don’t like how the vote turned out, they should talk to the planning commission and work on another ordinance.”
Josh Van Camp, president of the Interstate Informed Citizens Coalition, also attended the meeting and called the proposed land transfer an abuse of Public Act 425.
“If you look at the way the people who proposed the PA 425 gerrymandered the district, in my mind it raises serious legal questions about the way PA 425 is being applied in this instance. It is being used as a way, not to support economic development, but to circumvent zoning,” he said.
Property owners requesting the transfer also were present, including Yvonne Bushey who presented the Board with several documents and photos supporting her claim that wind energy benefits everyone in Huron County.
“Income, in Huron County, over the past four years, has amounted to $3,233,916 to be used for senior citizens, county operating, veterans, schools, libraries, roads, medical care facility, fire, emergency services and the Huron ISD,” she said. “Everyone benefits from wind energy – everyone.”
Huron County Commissioner Steve Vaughan asked Lake Township Supervisor Robert Smith, also in attendance, if the Lake Township Planning Commission is currently working on revising its wind ordinance.
“Not at this time,” Smith said.
Vaughan replied, “It would be so much nicer, and easier for all, if (Lake Township) could come up with an amicable solution and some kind of ordinance that would be workable between both groups. Then this 425 wouldn’t even have to be entered into or even explored.”
Vaughan said, by the end of this year, there will be 160 turbines in Huron County, which will mean $4.5 million in county revenue.
“The $4.5 million comes from personal property taxes that will be paid by the utility companies, and personal property tax is not going away,” Vaughan said. “Personal property tax is slated to be eliminated, but we have been given information from Lansing that says we have to come up with another way to assess them.”
Chandler Township Supervisor William Renn said the State of Michigan’s proposal to mandate 25 percent of energy will be produced by green methods by 2025 may result in more area wind turbines, whether people like it or not.
Several audience members told the board that using the PA 425 agreement to circumvent a certified vote against Lake Township’s proposed wind ordinance would be an insult to those who have given their lives for democracy.
T.L. Bushey of Lake Township said more property owners have come forward to ask that their property be included in the proposed land transfer, which would increase the total land area to more than 4,000 acres.
“We talk about democracy and wars being fought, but if you look at the wars fought over the last 200 years, they are over resources, natural resources, whether it’s oil, gold or land. That is what is being fought over, not over democracy,” Bushey said.
“We’re fighting right now. We’re fighting over oil. That’s why we’re over in the Middle East.”
After much further debate and several outbursts from the audience, the board determined it had enough information to decide if it should consider the Public Act 425 land transfer request.
Chandler Township Clerk Kevin Roestel made a motion to reject the proposed 425 agreement with Lake Township, which was supported by Treasurer Connie Herford and then passed by the board.
After pronouncing the motion carried, Supervisor Renn addressed Smith and T.L. Bushey regarding the decision.
“Bob (Smith), we will not be entering into negotiations with you. T.L. (Bushey), Chandler Township is not interested in a 425 agreement with Lake (Township),” said Renn, which prompted applause from some audience members, and others to storm out of the room.
In other business the board:
• Approved the solid waste expansion plan for Richfield Management, which has met conditions allowing it to expand their waste disposal operations in Huron County.
• Discussed an application from DTE to set up a wind overlay district for the remaining sections of Chandler Township. The public hearing is tentatively set for the first part of July.
• Voted to appoint Dave Reibling to the Chandler Township Planning Commission.
• Set the date for the next Chandler Township Board meeting for 7 p.m. July 9.
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