BAD AXE – The county’s wind energy zoning subcommittee has achieved its purpose and will be terminated, Commissioner David Peruski said this week.
After choosing to pay $10,500 to a Grand Rapids-based acoustics firm to help revise Huron County’s wind ordinance – specifically areas related to sound and noise levels of wind turbines – Peruski said the ad-hoc committee will likely have a recap meeting and submit final results to planners and commissioners.
“We’ll let (Acoustics by Design) do their work,” Peruski said.
The board of commissioners appointed county officials to the committee in January. The nine members met in May for the first time in full. Nearly 20 residents attended that meeting, voicing the mostly negative experiences with wind turbines they’ve had. The comments, along with complaints commissioners said they received from constituents, further led the committee to tackle sound and noise level regulations in the wind ordinance.
County officials also said no current members on county boards have the expertise needed to make revisions in these areas. It was agreed that an independent opinion was needed from an outside firm.
“The whole county’s watching you, that’s for sure,” Commissioner John Nugent said.
“On both sides of the fence,” Board Chairman Clark Elftman added.
Members also discussed setbacks, heights and other areas of the ordinance over the months. Elftman reminded commissioners that the subcommittee does not make policy, but rather suggestions to planners and commissioners.
“A lot of work went into this, and I think it’s appreciated,” Nugent said.
The nine members on the committee include commissioners Peruski, Steve Vaughan and John Bodis; Steve Allen, the county’s corporate counsel; Jeff Smith, building and zoning director; Clark Brock; Carl Duda, planning commission member; and residents Robert McLean and Brion Dickens, appointed in March and April.
The appointment of Dickens, who owns a company that designs wind, solar and biomass systems, faced criticism. Two weeks before Dickens became a member, commissioners denied DTE Project Manager Mike Serafin a spot on the board, citing a conflict of interest and non-residency status. Commissioner John Nugent said Dickens was “clearly not a conflict the same as Mr. Serafin was.”
Acoustics by Design is expected to begin work by September. Of the two firms interviewed for the job, both said there are major deficiencies in the ordinance and that it is outdated.
Rob Heck, Meade Township planning commission chairman, said he would like to coordinate more with the members of the wind energy zoning subcommittee, as the township also is in the process of revising its wind ordinance.
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