September 30, 2012

Public generates ideas at wind zone hearing

By Mary Drier, Staff Writer | Tuscola County Advertiser | September 29, 2012 |

FAIRGROVE – Although there are no wind development projects set yet for Fairgrove Township, steps are being taken for the future.

During public participation at Fairgrove Township Planning Commission’s hearing Tuesday, one of the key concerns of several of those who spoke were the different distances for setbacks for participating property owners to have leases for proposed wind development compared to setbacks for non-participating property owners and roadways, and also some wording changes in some sections.

The public suggested increasing the setback of non-participating landowners from one times the turbine’s height; which is about 500 feet, to going with a setback of one and a half times the turbine’s height for a setback of about 750 feet.

Planning Commission members who support that setback change and some wording revisions in other sections of the proposed ordinance were Doug Shannon, Bruce Turner, Mike Day, Brian Pike, Carl Childs, Jeff Montei, and Duane Hickey with Lovell Coleman voting no.

Coleman said he was against increasing the setback because it would have a personal impact on him because of his property’s layout.

The changes that were recommended are amendments to the township’s zoning ordinance. The township has had a zoning ordinance in place since 2009 which briefly addressed wind because back then wind farms were just starting to be developed in Huron County.

With more wind projects on the horizon, the township board thought it prudent to review and revise the zoning ordinance with more specifics on wind-farm development.

Spicer Engineering and township Attorney John McQuillan helped with the updates.

During Spicer’s presentation on wind development, the necessity for an ordinance governing its development, it was noted having a comprehensive outline is important because the wind zone survey that was done a few years ago shows there is enough wind current in the Greater Thumb Area to sustain 1,500 – 2,800 turbines.

In addition, some audience members wanted the commission and board members to do more research on potential health issues, impact on property values, and ambient noise from turbines. Those issues were taken into consideration, but not acted on.

The next steps are for the proposed recommended changes to the township’s ordinance go before the Tuscola County Planning Commission to review.

The Tuscola County Planning Commission meets 4:30 p.m., the first Wednesday of the month, at the Purdy Building, 125 W. Lincoln St., Caro. Their next meeting will be Oct. 3.

The county’s planning commission could recommend some changes or not. After that, the ordinance goes back to the township for their review.

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