MEADE TOWNSHIP – At a time when county planners have given the go-ahead to one batch of wind turbines in western Huron County, another is being challenged by a group of more than 20 residents.
In response to the township board approving areas that DTE Energy has deemed suitable for wind turbines, Rita Parsch set out last month to get the 45 signatures needed to file a referendum. The petition requests the decision to be put to a vote by residents on the May ballot.
After six days of knocking on doors, the lines were filled with names.
Dividing the township by sections and assigning group members to canvas each area, the group has since gathered about 123 signatures from Meade Township residents – two weeks before deadline.
“If they’re voters, we were there,” Parsch said.
Parsch, a 60-year-old substitute teacher who’s lived in Meade for 35 years, said she encountered different reactions when knocking on doors.
“Two people were quite nasty,” Parsch said. “One guy said I was spreading lies.”
Others called Parsch asking when the petition was coming. She said she wanted to show that there still is an option for residents after the township board’s decision.
“They don’t feel like they’re heard, like their concerns are not important,” Parsch said.
“At least people will get the chance to have their say.”
Sally Kain said she signed the petition because “everyone is entitled to their opinion.”
“Everyone should have a part in this,” Kain said. “They should all have a say.”
Personally, Kain said she is concerned with health effects from wind turbines and wants bigger setbacks – “three miles away from any sort of residence.”
“They belong in the parks and away from the people,” she said. “We don’t go and put houses next to factories.”
Parsch said the group has put in an “ungodly” amount of hours into gathering information, and still thinks it important to have question on the ballot.
“I personally felt I’ve been to turbine college all summer,” said Parsch, a former Port Hope teacher and Huron Intermediate School District employee.
Township officials say it is the first time a resident has come forward with a notice of intent to file a referendum. When Parsch and supporters delivered the notice to the township hall, it frustrated Supervisor Bernie Creguer.
“I don’t know how to deal with these people,” Creguer previously told the Tribune. “Every time we do something to appease them, they want to move the goal post.”
DTE says two-thirds of Meade landowners have signed leases and easements to participate in the project, which would bring about 40 turbines to the township.
Countywide, at least two other residents have sought to reverse a decision made by public officials in regard to wind energy.
In Lake Township, a petition was filed in July 2011 by resident Clay Kelterborn, who wanted to put the wind energy ordinance up for a vote of the people. In 2012, a referendum asking residents to approve the adoption of the township’s wind energy zoning ordinance was voted down 207-128.
Also during that year, Lincoln Township resident Carl Duda, who currently serves on the county planning commission, attempted to gather a required 677 signatures to put RES Americas’ Deerfield wind district up for a vote, but was unable to get the signatures in time.