ESCANABA – The city of Escanaba continued to experience issues with a power outage Monday night, but the Delta County Planning Commission was still able to meet to discuss another energy-related topic – wind turbines.
In their meeting, which was held at the Escanaba Civic Center, the commission talked about sections of the Delta County zoning ordinance focused on the wind energy application process.
Some proposed wind turbine-related amendments to the ordinance were presented to the commission last fall, but they were not approved as presented.
No formal decisions regarding the turbines were made at Mondays meeting.
“It’s all just for discussion right now, Zoning and Building Administrator Dave Menacher said.
Instead, the primary purpose of this discussion was to pinpoint a list of sections of the ordinance that the commission would like to focus on in future meetings.
Menacher said this was done to allow the commission to look more closely at the key issues with the ordinance, as opposed to looking at everything at once.
“If we got into each one of these items tonight, wed be here tomorrow,” Menacher said.
One of the ordinance sections that will be reviewed in greater detail by the commission will be the section on wind turbine setbacks. This issue has been particularly contentious in Delta County, as the county’s ordinance currently states that turbines must be built 1,320 feet from any dwellings. However, this means that setbacks could extend into other properties as a result.
Some people have argued that this could make it difficult for them to use their land as they choose, and that setbacks should be measured from property lines instead.
“This is probably a section we want to take a look at,” Menacher said.
Another section which the commission indicated they wanted to look into was the section focusing on sound pressure and noise, as noise levels have also been a common complaint surrounding the Garden Peninsulas wind farm. Additionally, the commission will look at the section of the ordinance dealing with shadow flicker, a phenomenon caused by the shadows of spinning turbine blades which some Garden residents have said has created further problems for them.< "Whatever I can find on shadow flicker, Ill try to compile that," Menacher said. Other parts of the ordinance which the commission plans to investigate include visual impact and procedures for decommissioning turbines. Though Monday's meeting marked a step forward for the commission's attempts to revise the turbine-related sections of the ordinance, their work is far from over, Commissioner David Moyle said. "This is the democratic process (at) work," Moyle said. In other business, the commission approved a minor change to the ordinance which will change a Baldwin Township property from being zoned as "timber production" to being zoned as resource production for submission to the Delta County Board of Commissioners.