PARIS TOWNSHIP – All seats were filled and residents lined the walls at the Paris Township Hall Monday night as the board held a second public hearing seeking input regarding a zoning ordinance that some argue is too restrictive and others say will be fair to all.
After listening to two hours of public comment, the board stated it may or may not vote on the proposed ordinance during the township’s regular meeting, which will begin at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, May 28.
One of the differences between Huron County’s zoning ordinance and Paris Township’s proposed ordinance regarding wind turbines is the location from where the setback is measured. The county’s ordinance measures the setback for a neighboring turbine from the neighbor’s residence, while Paris Township proposes to measure the setback from the neighbor’s home and/or property line.
Another difference is the maximum turbine height. The county’s ordinance measures the turbine’s height at the hub, while the township’s will measure the tip of the blade.
Some present at Monday’s meeting said those differences will make it impossible for many who want turbines to have them on their property.
Malcolm Swinbanks, an internationally renowned acoustics expert, praised the township’s zoning commission for designing a plan that is fair to everyone.
“I’ve looked through the Paris Township ordinance, and it’s the first time I’ve seen real competence in designing such an ordinance,” Swinbanks said.
Paris Township resident Robert McLean agreed, saying the county’s ordinance is “crazy” and it does not take into account the negative impact the noise and light flicker created by turbines can have on people.
“Huron County has knowingly and willingly refused to use proper acoustic definitions and measurement protocol,” McLean said.
Some at the meeting asked the board to allow residents to vote on the ordinance.
“One man, one vote,” said Paris Township resident Joe Candela.
He said he’s tired of seeing turbines everywhere else in the county, but he is restricted from having one.
“I’m beginning to wonder why I haven’t got one, why my neighbor hasn’t got one. Doesn’t anybody like money?” Candela asked. “I have a board telling me what I can do with my property when I’ve never told anybody in my life what to do with their property. We’re a progressive nation, we better have a progressive township. … If there is a possibility of having them, I want them. It’s the easiest way to make money.”
Others at the meeting said it’s ethically wrong to subject a non-participating neighbor to living near a turbine.
Chris Guza, member of the township’s planning commission, said the commission attempted to draft an ordinance that was fair to all. He said the proposed ordinance does not make it impossible for people to erect turbines, but some residents who own smaller plots of property will have to get their neighbor’s consent if the turbine must be constructed closer than the proposed ordinance’s setback.
“Everybody has the ability to waive their rights,” he said.
Dan Guza, a member of the township’s planning commission, spoke on behalf of the commission and said residents have had their chance to influence the ordinance.
“We’ve been doing this for years. The doors have been open. Whether you’re pro or against wind … people have spoke their feelings and the board did listen,” Guza said. “If you are at this meeting for the first time tonight, you missed your boat. It sailed a long time ago. … I appreciate those of you who went along for the ride, but it’s not fair to show up at this meeting for the first time (and demand a change to the proposed ordinance).”
Several people present at the meeting were not Paris Township residents. Instead, they were residents of townships that allowed turbines and they were present Monday to warn the people of Paris Township about how turbines will negatively impact their quality of life.
Cary Shineldecker, of Riverton Township in Mason County, said he can see 56 476-foot turbines from the windows of his home, and the nearest turbine is 1,139 feet from his property line. He said the turbines disturb his sleep and have affected his health. He said wind energy companies paint a rosy picture of turbines, but the reality of living with them is much different.
“What they tell you in the meetings and what your life ends up like are two different things,” he said.
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