CROSS VILLAGE – The debate on whether to revise Emmet County’s sound cap for wind turbines is expected to resume on Thursday night.
The Emmet County Planning Commission has been pondering whether ordinance language limiting wind energy systems’ noise in its zoning to 35 decibels could be challenged in court as exclusionary zoning.
Some residents have voiced staunch opposition to the increase, while developers have called the restriction essentially a ban on wind energy as an alternative power source.
County officials agreed in September to seek outside experts to help them reconcile the quandary.
Engineering firm AECOM has been authorized to spend up to $12,000 studying the ordinance and reporting back to the commission.
AECOM has wind development experience of its own. The massive New York-based conglomerate was awarded the contract in 2011 to construct the first U.S. offshore wind farm about three miles from Atlantic City, N.J., according to Forbes magazine.
Discussions on wind energy were tabled in October and November because local officials wanted to wait to see whether a Michigan voters would approve an amendment to the state constitution that would have required the Great Lakes State to have 25 percent of its energy come from renewable sources – including wind turbines – by 2025.
The measure failed 2 to 1 in Michigan; Emmet County voters shot down the proposal 4,939 to 12,416.
The failed vote means the county will move forward with its study and resume discussions on the ordinance.
The Emmet County Planning Commission will discuss the wind energy systems ordinance at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 6, in the Emmet County Board of Commissioner’s Room at 200 Division St. downtown Petoskey.