November 10, 2012

DTE gets OK to begin building Echo wind park

By Kate Hessling, Assistant News Editor | Huron Daily Tribune | November 9, 2012 |

BAD AXE – DTE Energy is on its way to constructing a 70-turbine wind energy development in Chandler, Oliver and McKinley townships.

According to Wind Site Development Manager Matt Wagner, the three-township project is slated to be constructed in 2013. McKinley Township is the only township in the project that’s zoned by the county, and there is one turbine that’s going to be built there. It’s in Section 13, and DTE received conditional approval to build that turbine, following a site plan review by the Huron County Planning Commission on Wednesday night.

Wagner said DTE already has received approval from Oliver and Chandler Townships. The utility plans to build nine turbines in Oliver Township and 60 turbines in Chandler.

The project’s name was dubbed Echo because it includes Elkton, and Chandler and Oliver townships, Wagner said. The entire 120-megawatt project will be spread across 22,765 acres, of which only 320 are in Section 13 of McKinley Township. With the exception of McKinley Township, the project’s turbine density will be two to three turbines in each section.

Getting approval to work in the half section of McKinley Township didn’t come overnight, as the Huron County Board of Commissioners didn’t initially approve a wind overlay district in that area. There were a variety of concerns cited, including the lack of certainty of the future of tax revenue from local wind developments, as well as concerns about the county’s wind zoning ordinance.

However, the board eventually approved the district in August, and DTE has been going through the process of garnering permits, including approval from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, which is expected to come by April 2013, Wagner said.

Work won’t begin on the turbine in McKinley Township until DTE has all the permits it needs from the state and Huron County road and drain commissions, as well as the county’s building office, Wagner said.

But access road construction could begin this fall in the township-zoned areas, Wagner said. He noted it’s expected turbine foundations will be constructed next spring, and turbine components will be delivered in the late spring.

The county planning commission approved the DTE site plan review on the condition that it submits all the necessary permits and other outstanding paperwork.

In other business during Wednesday’s meeting, the planning commission held a public hearing regarding a special use permit request from D&W Salvage of Bad Axe to build a 40-by-56 foot metal processing facility on a 40-acre parcel in Lincoln Township.

Owner Bryan Deering explained the facility, which will be sited on the west side of the property adjacent to other structures at that site, will be used to house a new copper recovery machine the business is purchasing. It, along with other materials that the company will store in the new facility, needs to be in a heated location.

Jeff Smith, Huron County Building and Zoning director, explained commercial recycling facilities are allowed in the agricultural district, however, expansions or additions need a special use permit. When someone applies for a special use permit, the planning commission has to hold a public hearing and then vote to approve the application before a permit can be issued.

Smith explained the application submitted by D&W Salvage meets all the requirements in the zoning ordinance, and he didn’t cite any reasons why the planning commission should not approve the request.

“They’d like to get started as soon as possible,” he said.

Planner Clark Brock moved to approve the request, noting he doesn’t see any reason why the planning board should discourage a business from moving forward and growing.

The planning commission unanimously approved the request.

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