November 28, 2014

Foster Twp. man urges resident input on wind farm plan

By Kent Jackson | The Standard Speaker | November 28, 2014 |

A Foster Township man is part of a group that asked residents to join them at a zoning meeting Wednesday at 6 p.m. to share their opinions about a proposed wind farm, which he opposes.

“We’ve been handing out flyers and asking people to come down in numbers and say what they feel about it,” Mark Dolowich said.

Dolowich has lived about 10 years in Sandy Valley, where people enjoy the outdoors.

“We’ve been going into those mountains and hunting and horseback riding. It’s used for recreation. We live here because its quiet,” he said.

Most of the residents to whom he talked are leery about the plan.

EDF Renewable Energy wants to build 25 wind turbines that could be as tall as 525 feet.

Dolowich mentioned the flickering shadows that the turbine blades cast as they spin.

Shadow flicker can cause seizures in people who have photosensitive epilepsy, a condition that affects one in 4,000, an issue brief by the Western Michigan Wind Assessment said. The brief said reducing the rate of flicker can prevent seizures, whereas landscaping can block shadows cast by some turbines. Turbines also can be shut off when they would cast shadows on homes.

“Then there’s going to be humming and whooshing,” Dolowich said.

In its application, EDF Renewable said it will keep noise at the boundaries of unsigned properties to 55 decibels, which is a little quieter than a conversation.

Building the turbines and access roads will require disturbing land, which Dolowich said could involve removing trees and might create drainage and subsidence problems. Foster’s code would require EDF Renewable to submit a plan for controlling erosion and sediment.

Foster Township might receive $500,000 in permits from the project, Dolowich said, but residents won’t get discounts on their taxes or their electric bills.

Residents didn’t hear about the project in the early stages, Dolowich added.

He knew of bird surveys and other studies going on but didn’t know what was planned until a 300-foot test turbine went up this summer.

Now, a red light from the test turbine shines in his bedroom window.

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