The Reading Township Zoning Board of Appeals has decided to table a decision on whether or not to grant permission to Own Energy to construct a meteorological tower for wind resource assessment.
The board will spend another two weeks consulting documents that weren’t previously consulted prior to Wednesday night’s meeting.
The document in question is a “checklist” that was drafted by the township’s attorney, Kevin Shirk, approximately a year ago.
Members of the public present at the public hearing expressed concern as to whether or not the process of granting permission to Own Energy has been conducted according to legal procedure.
However, concern over the zoning variance stretched further than the checklist.
Eva Richardson, speaking on behalf of Don Richardson, asked the board to consider the detrimental effects of granting the variance and turning the township into an industrial park.
“There are those who enjoy the area as it is against the few who will benefit financially,” said Richardson.
Richardson further expressed that there hadn’t been enough specific information presented about to the proposed wind farm.
“We are told there will be jobs for local people,” said Richardson. “But with no specifics.”
Richardson said granting the variance would result in “gigantic changes.”
Jenni Foust is the president of the M49 Wind Coalition and was the most vocal for the other side of the debate.
“What about the heartache of those who want it?” Foust asked. “This is about an application and a man’s property. I urge the board to consider this application as it is.”
James Damon is the development manager at Own Energy and said the meteorological tower is just the beginning of the the process of constructing a wind farm.
“It is the first step,” said Damon. “We’re open and honest and happy to share it.”
Damon said Own Energy has met all the requirements they were given in order to receive permission to construct the meteorological tower.
“We filled out the application; we’ve answered every question; we’ve met our burden,” he said.
Near the close of the public hearing, lake property owner Mary Cole noted the meteorological tower is not exactly the tower in question.
“I think it’s really important you go slow and methodically,” said Cole. “This tower is very, very important.”
The public hearing Wednesday followed an open house Tuesday that was hosted by M49 Wind Coalition and Own Energy representatives, who discussed the proposed Ranger Wind Farm.
Foust said the M49 Wind Coalition is a community-oriented group.
“Basically, we’re group of people who share the same desire to help our community with green energy,” said Foust. “We want to provide accurate and factual information.”
Not only is Foust an advocate for clean energy, she also said Reading is a prime location for a wind farm.
“With the geography of Reading being so high in altitude, it has a great potential to service many people with wind energy,” said Foust “We feel this is a positive thing for our community.”
Damon agreed that Reading’s locale made it one of the best locations in Michigan for a wind farm.
According to the information provided at the open house, the proposed wind farm would be comprised of approximately half the number of turbines than the previous project that was being developed by Duke Energy – a project that never materialized.
Representatives from Own Energy said they were aware of the history of wind energy development in Reading. However, because the currently proposed project is smaller than the one originally proposed Duke Energy, Damon said the project could be constructed within the already existing regulations of the wind ordinance.
Damon also pointed out the potential for revenue generation that would result from bringing a new industry to Reading.
The developing company not only has the wind turbines – they want to give back funds to the community
“They want to involve the community,” said Foust. “It’s a two-way street.”
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