HURON COUNTY – County residents and leaders continue to debate whether the economic benefits of hosting wind parks is worth the potential cost to community health, animal welfare and the county’s landscape.
Most recently, the argument pitted neighbor against neighbor in Meade Township, where, after months of contentious meetings, the Meade Township Board approved a wind overlay district request made by Detroit Edison in November.
Residents sought to overturn the board’s decision by petitioning for a referendum vote, but the plan was upset because the petition’s language did not meet legal requirements.
The Huron County Board of Commissioners will reconsider previous motions to issue a moratorium on new wind park development. Commissioner John Nugent said he plans to bring a motion to that effect due to an increasing percentage of the community opposes wind parks and is asking the county to halt new developments.
“A lot of you saw what is happening in Meade Township. There is a growing concern about these wind turbine developments and the fact that we have an antiquated ordinance that is in the process of being revised,” he said. “I think a moratorium is in order at this point until that ordinance can be revised.”
He said he believes a not only would protect the interests of the community, it would prevent the wind companies from incurring additional costs associated with planning developments in the county.
Nugent’s suggestion fell on the heels of an announcement by Geronimo Huron Wind, which is planning a 100-megawatt wind farm spanning McKinley and Winsor townships.
The Apple Blossom Wind Farm’s footprint represents a total investment of nearly $200 million once fully developed, according to information from Geronimo. It will consist of between 43 and 62 turbines, depending on the type of turbine selected.
Currently, the county is working to revise its zoning ordinance as it relates it wind and has put together a Wind Energy Ad Hoc Committee to study the ordinance and make suggestions to the county’s zoning board regarding possible revisions.
Following the ad hoc committee’s recommendation, in August, the Huron County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted Tuesday to hire Acoustics by Design to assist with the development of an updated noise ordinance as it applies to commercial wind turbine noise.
The firm, an independent acoustical consulting firms headquartered in Grand Rapids, will be paid $10,500, plus expenses, to review the county’s ordinance and suggest changes so that it better protects residents from the potentially negative effects of living near a wind farm.
Commissioners expanded the study in November, which they authorized ABD to conduct a night study to assist updating noise ordinance pertaining to wind turbines for $9,650.
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