HURON COUNTY – The subcommittee tasked with advising the Huron County Planning Commission about parts of the zoning ordinance regarding wind turbines has reached the limitations of their knowledge and is asking for help from an expert.
All members agreed they need to be able to consult with someone with expert knowledge of wind turbines and sound, but they are unsure whether the County Board of Commissioners will appropriate money to pay for that advice. And if the board OKs seeking outside help, it’s unknown how much a consultant would charge the county.
Subcommittee members suggested figures ranging from $2,000 to $35,000. The subcommittee met June 4 before the regular planning commission meeting with the intention of defining terms used in the ordinance.
While Commissioner, and member of the subcommittee, while most on the board argued the definitions should be simple enough for an average person to understand, subcommittee member Robert McLean insisted the group use definitions from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), which are technical and include industry jargon.
Planning commission chairman Clark Brock said if the ordinance is too complicated, it will be difficult to enforce because no one on the county level will be able to understand it.
Commissioner and subcommittee member Steve Vaughan said the county will have to request proposals, and until consultants respond, it’s difficult to say how much hiring a consultant will cost. One thing that is certain, however, is it will take time.
“We would make a recommendation to the planning commission. The planning commission would then make a recommendation to the board, and the board would have to decide yes or no. It’s not going to happen overnight,” Vaughan said.
Huron County Corporate Council Steve Allen pointed out that the definitions are just a portion of what the county must address when it updates the zoning ordinance, and an expert’s advice is needed to ensure both sides of the wind issue feel they are being treated fairly.
“We’ve got divided sides here and if we muddle through on our own, it’s always going to be suspect from one side or the other,” Allen said. “… What we need is an expert who’s got credentials and no skin in the game. Even if we have to pay some money for it, we’ve got to have something where we can say to both sides, look this guy has this resume, this legitimacy.”
Huron County Building and Zoning Director Jeff Smith said he has reached out for help from experts from Michigan State University, but he has not received a response.
McLean suggested the county request an independent advisor directly from ANSI.
Allen also said it would be nice if the county could train someone to be able to measure noise from wind turbines so an expert is not required to conduct noise readings for every complaint.
“What we’re trying to do is make it work for the people in this community. I had somebody in my office today who lives over on the west side near a wind turbine who said it sounds like a semi … truck coming down the road every time the wind picks up. That being the case, that’s what we want to prevent,” Allen said.
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