- National Wind Watch: Wind Energy News - https://www.wind-watch.org/news -

Van Buren Township: Board sends sustainable energy ordinance back to Planning Commission

VAN BUREN TWP. – In its second look in four years at an ordinance to regulate sustainable energy generation such as wind or solar power, the Board of Trustees agreed to study further the implications of the ordinance proposed by Arthur Mullen, planning and economic development director.

The issue was brought up by longtime Trustee Jeff Jahr at the Oct. 1 board meeting.

“At the May 19, 2009, Board of Trustees meeting, the first reading of the draft ordinance was withdrawn from the board agenda, and the ordinance has never returned,” Mullen said.

He said his reason for revisiting the proposed ordinance was a recent application for a solar energy system in the township and that, without approval of the ordinance, the application could not be approved.

Jahr drove the team toward a conclusion that the township’s Planning Commission should have a fresh look at the proposed ordinance, before it returned to the board for approval.

“This is not prohibiting a great deal,” Jahr said of the ordinance and of its potential for negative outcomes such as a loud wind turbine system in a densely populated area, for example.

“It is permitting a great deal,” he said.

Other officials said they agreed with Jahr, but wanted the reconsideration to be effective and efficient.

“Arthur, we can sit down and give the Planning Commission the tools to do it right,” Supervisor Linda Combs said, referring to Mullen.

In another agenda item, the township’s assessment coordinator, Linda Stevenson, proposed that nine industrial districts, primarily in the north-northeast area of the township, be dissolved.

The businesses in those areas continue to operate, but their real or personal property tax breaks have expired. Stevenson suggested that the industrial districts be dissolved to give the township more flexibility in responding to potential future requests for tax abatements, given ongoing downward pressure on township revenue, including the end of taxes on personal property like manufacturing equipment.

Officials supported the proposal and agreed to bring it to the next Board of Trustees, set for Tuesday, for a formal vote and decision.