HURON COUNTY – The Wind Energy Subcommittee for the Huron County Planning Commission plans to meet frequently to consider what many believe are long-needed changes to the county’s zoning ordinance.
During the subcommittee’s first meeting that included all nine members, it elected David Peruski chairman and Bob McLean vice chair. Also, at Peruski’s recommendation, the group agreed to meet three times in the next month to accelerate the planning process. Meetings are planned May 21 and 28 at 7:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. June 4, before the planning commission’s next meeting at 7 p.m.
In the meantime, subcommittee members will go through the zoning ordinance section that relates to wind energy and highlight areas of concern.
Huron County Building and Zoning Director Jeff Smith said the group will study and make recommended changes to Section 10 of the zoning ordinance, which has to do with wind turbines and wind energy facilities. He said one item that must be addressed is how the ordinance defines noise.
“One thing that I’ve noticed that we need to define to make it more consistent for the sound studies is the ANSI (American National Standards Institute) standards. We need to recognize standards and define those standards,” Smith said.
Matt Wagner, DTE wind development manager, encouraged the committee to base their recommendations on facts rather than allowing residents’ emotions to sway their determinations.
“Let the data lead you, rather than get into subjective standards, because that’s kind of a slippery slope,” he said.
About 20 community members attended the meeting, and several wished to speak about their experience with the construction of turbines in the county.
While the Open Meeting Act does not require the subcommittee to allow public comment, members decided it was in everyone’s best interest to allow audience members to address the board.
Charles Bumhoffer, a Huron County resident, said he’s concerned about what the two turbines recently constructed near his home will do to his property value. He quoted a Detroit Free Press article that reported proximity to turbines can lower residential property values by up to 40 percent.
“If that’s factual, then I’ve got a question. I was there before the turbines came. If I have to sell my house and take 40 percent less for it, who’s going to make me whole? Is it going to be the wind turbine companies? Is it going to be Detroit Edison who owns the company? Am I supposed to take a physical loss because turbines were placed near my property?” he said
Bumhoffer also complained that he is bothered by the noise the turbines make.
Mike Lorenz, of Brookfield Township, asked the subcommittee to consider requiring a buffer of some kind between overlay districts and areas where residents chose not to allow turbines. He said he lives in Section 13, which is not in a wind energy overlay district, but he experiences the effects of seven turbines, located in Section 12, that are directly across from his house.
“I am getting the same turbine noise as someone who is in an overlay district, so what’s the difference between being in an overlay and not. I mean, I don’t have a tower, I don’t have any cables going through my property, but I’m getting the turbine noise. And (Section) 13 is not permitted to receive turbine noise because it’s not in an overlay,” he said.
The subcommittee meets in Room 305 in the Huron County Building.
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