March 12, 2015

County plans more moratorium hearings

By Kelly Krager, Editor | Huron County View | 2015-03-12 |

HURON COUNTY – A public hearing and resolution regarding a moratorium was pulled from the agenda of Tuesday’s Huron County Board of Commissioners meeting after multiple residents and stakeholders voiced objections to a pause in wind energy development for county-zoned townships.

Commissioners had planned a public hearing at the request of DTE Energy during their regular meeting, but announced it would be postponed until 10 a.m. April 2 in the Huron County Circuit Courtroom. A second public hearing for all other interested parties will follow the 10 a.m. meeting.

Commissioner Dave Peruski said the board could take action following the two public hearings.

Commissioners also planned on Tuesday to vote on a resolution that would have imposed a moratorium on permits, licenses and approvals for any wind development. The proposed moratorium would have excluded the two developments who have site plan review applications pending before the Huron County Planning Commission, which are owned by RES Americas and Geronimo Wind Energy.

Huron County Building and Zoning Director Jeff Smith said he has received complaints claiming DTE requested a public hearing as a tactic to stall progress toward enacting a moratorium, but he said the utility was within its rights under the Zoning Enabling Act to have its position heard by the board.

“When you’re talking a zoning amendment, it doesn’t matter what it’s for, it could be setbacks for housing, wind turbines, any type of … land use ordinance that’s regulated by the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act, there’s a process for that adoption of that amendment,” Smith said.

He said the public hearing that took place March 4 before the Huron County Planning Commission was the start of that process.

“The planning commission holds the public hearing, receives comment, and recommends to this board either to adopt or not adopt the zoning amendment. That’s the standard, status quo practice when it comes to zoning issues,” he said.

Once the planning commission makes that recommendation, the ordinance comes back to the county commissioners for action. At that point, the board may choose to hold an additional public hearing.

“But you are required to hold a public hearing if anyone requests such by certified mail,” he said.

He added that the county went through the process when it last amended the ordinance in 2010.

“I want everyone to remember that we are following the statutes as adopted by the state. A lot of times people don’t understand the process that is involved. It’s a lot of work getting it to this point,” he said.

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