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Turbine OK’d in Section 13, McKinley Township

BAD AXE – A resolution to approve a wind energy overlay district for DTE Energy in Section 13 of McKinley Township was unanimously approved at Tuesday’s Huron County Board of Commissioners meeting.

The decision overturns the one made earlier this summer, when commissioners David Peruski, Ron Wruble and John Nugent voted against the district, while commissioners Steve Vaughan, John Horny and Clark Elftman voted in favor of it.

Because it was a split vote at 3-3, the resolution was defeated.

This time around, all six commissioners present voted in favor of the overlay district. Commissioner Peruski had an excused absence from Tuesday’s meeting.

There already are wind turbines being constructed in McKinley Township.

But no overlay district exists in Section 13, and turbines cannot be built in that section until an overlay district is created, per the county’s wind energy zoning ordinance.

Phil Leipprandt, who owns the property in question in Section 13 in McKinley Township, has had an easement with DTE to develop his property for the past three years. At the meeting, the project was said to have met all the requirements for development.

The ordinance requires that a developer prove three things in order to get a wind district approved. First, there must be adequate wind resources available.

Second, there must be a sufficient number of parcels under lease with the development. Third, it has to be an agricultural district.

Some of the amendments DTE made to their plans included reducing the number of proposed turbines in Section 13 from two to just one, and a setback of at least three miles from the lake.

Also, as with the first application, Virgil Bouck’s property in the area would not be included in the district.

Additionally, a setback of at least 630 feet – or twice the height of a wind turbine – would have to be used to place one around Bouck’s property.

“With this resolution, everything complies with what is on our books,” said Elftman, who chairs the Huron County Board of Commissioners.

Although changing his vote to a ‘yes’ during the latest attempt for the district, commissioner Wruble had strong concerns about how things were being handled – stating he believes that county zoning fails to look at each situation on a case-by-case basis.

“We are going about this one in the wrong way,” he said. “What works for one township doesn’t necessarily work in another. We can’t continue to paint the county with one broad brush.”