August 1, 2013

Wind turbine project given go-ahead by Clinton County judge

By: Anthony Sabella | Jul 31, 2013 |

For George and Elizabeth Ayoub, it’s not the wind turbines themselves that are the problem, but the issues that come with living close to one.

“There’s a humming sound that comes with the windmills, causing headaches and illness,” said George Ayoub. “There’s a cloudflicker that comes through with the sun.”

That’s why the Bengal Township couple is not happy with Clinton County Judge Randy Tahvonen’s decision to push along a wind energy project that would put one just beyond their property line.

“The judge invalidated four portions of our township ordinances and these ordinances were drafted by township attorneys at the request of well over 90 percent of the residents,” said Elizabeth Ayoub.

It started early last year, when Chicago-based Forest Hill Energy applied for a special use permit from the ocunty to build nearly 40, 427 foot tall wind turbines in Bengal, Dallas and Essex Townships.

Before the application could go through, the townships passed ordinances placing restrictions on turbine heights and requiring a larger distance between turbines and properties.

After filing suit in April, Forest Hill was told it could go ahead as planned, Tuesday.

“Those townships don’t have zoning commissions, so our lawsuit was to say we’ve passed the requirements for the Clinton County Zoning Commission,” said Jon Bylsma, Attorney for Forest Hill Energy.

But the townships aren’t done fighting. They’ll meet with attorneys on Thursday to discuss their next move.

Bylsma says there aren’t many options left.

“They always have the opportunity to pass their own zoning ordinances,” he said. “I don’t think they can do that in the time frame necessary to stop this project.”

Bylsma says Forest Hill hopes to start the project as soon as possible.

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