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NEXTera to build wind-measurement tower in Sherman Township

On 2-4-2014, NEXTera got what it wanted from the Sherman Planning Commission: permission to build a 196.85-foot wind-measurement tower. It will be as tall as a 19-story building, be lighted at night, and be built on land leased from a non-resident. A large majority of people attending the PC meeting were opposed to granting NEXTera the permit. The planning commission, as in the past, ignored them.

A majority attending the 2.11 Sherman board meeting also opposed wind development. Supervisor Eggle suggested that the board could consider a one-year moratorium on turbine permits at a future meeting, but made no promises. In 2010 he refused to act on a moratorium request made by nearly 300 voters. At present, no turbine can be permitted without risking a lawsuit until the planning commission writes new zoning. If that zoning is wind-friendly, it will be challenged, and residents will be allowed to vote on its adoption. Sherman voters have twice repealed wind-friendly zoning.

Sherman residents have been denied the right to vote directly on wind development, a privilege granted in other Michigan jurisdictions. Instead, residents have had to repeal wind-friendly zoning. The majority have repeatedly and unequivocally stated they do not want wind development. Township officers, many of whom can profit from wind development, continue to ignore the majority.

The Osceola County Planning Commission unanimously adopted a one-year moratorium on wind development, but declined to pass it on to the county commissioners until they have consulted with experts. If the commissioners receive the moratorium resolution in the future, they may need to develop an ordinance for it to take effect. Until that happens, the county planning commission’s vote signals their concern, but has no effect. Meanwhile, NEXTera continues to lease.

Victoria L. Brehm