SHERMAN TOWNSHIP— Voters heading to the polls this November in Sherman Township will be deciding on the future of wind energy development in the township.
A second referendum on wind turbine zoning was ordered to appear on the ballot by Judge Scott Hill-Kennedy of the 49th Circuit Court after ruling in favor of non-profit corporation Save Our Sherman in a suit filed against the Sherman clerk and Sherman Township board in July.
In the suit, the group requested the court order Sherman Township, its board and its clerk to place a referendum before Sherman Township voters to approve or disapprove amendments regarding the placement of wind turbines in the township.
SOS Treasurer Victoria Brehm said the referendum appearing on the ballot in November means the community will have the power to vote on wind energy development.
“It comes down to giving people the right to vote on their own future,” Brehm said. “The development of wind energy comes with big changes and the people should have a choice.”
The referendum would create standards for the maintaining, building and locating of a utility-grid wind energy system. A “yes” vote would cause the amendment to be adopted. A “no” vote would cause the amendment to be rejected.
Planning Commission Chairman Ron Moesta said community members are concerned about the location and noise level of wind turbines near their property.
“Wind turbines are not a natural sight in a rural community, and residents worry about how they will affect their property value,” Moesta said.
The first referendum concerning wind turbine zoning standards took place November 2010. Voters rejected the proposed zoning before revisions were made by members of the Sherman Township Planning Commission.
The amendment to the zoning ordinance appearing on the ballot in November establishes a setback distance of 2,250 feet as well as new standards on noise restrictions. Township Board Supervisor David Eggle said the planning commission reviewed siting standards from November 2010 through December 2011 and said the decision of the voters will determine the direction Sherman Township moves in the future with wind energy development.
“This has been a long process for the community, but it provides the framework for the issue to be addressed.” Eggle said.
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