BAD AXE – A buffet of topics sat before county commissioners at Monday’s meeting – from wind turbine complaints to relocating the ice arena and finding a new bank for the county’s general fund money – and they took a sampling of each.
Wind turbine complaints
Jeff Smith, the county’s building and zoning director, told commissioners he is open to suggestions on revising a part of the county wind ordinance that allows residents to make a formal complaint on an issue such as noise, shadow flicker or other issues related to turbines.
“As of late, we’ve had quite a few complaints delivered to the county where they’re not even county-zoned townships,” Smith said. “A lot of them were primarily in Meade and Chandler (townships), which are not county-zoned. Our ordinance does not encompass those two townships.”
Smith said he recommends those in self-zoned townships to take complaints to the local zoning administrator. Many gripes came from those who didn’t even make the complaint.
“It’s a copy of a signed form,” Smith said of others submitting complaints on someone else’s behalf.
But under county zoning, “we’ve had three formal complaints,” he said.
He also discussed the possibility of fraudulent claims within the complaints.
“We have to somehow make everyone accountable, whether it be the developer and even the complainant, because other ordinances reference fraudulent claims, also,” Smith said.
Which left Board Chair John Nugent to question how a fraudulent complaint could be proven.
“There’s ways,” said Commissioner John Bodis, a former Bad Axe police chief.
A puzzled Nugent turned to Bodis for more of an answer, which didn’t come.
“Waterboarding,” Commissioner Ron Wruble said quietly and jokingly, arousing a few laughs.
Smith said the county’s Wind Energy Zoning Committee would likely look into revising the complaint resolution process.
Ice arena still eyeing new location
Huron County Hockey Association officials in 2012 were poised to break ground for a new ice arena by June 2014. Talks of a new facility are ongoing.
Commissioner Sami Khoury, properties chair, said the Association is drawing up plans with engineers to relocate on county property from its current spot in the Expo Center, with a proposed location north of the Huron Intermediate School District building on South Van Dyke. Cost estimates for the structure in 2012 were between $1.5 and $2 million, and Khoury says it will now be near $1.2 million.
“They’re doing all the fundraising,” Swartzendruber said.
Commissioners talked of aging equipment, ice sliding off the roof and only half of the rink in operation as of late.
“They just keep pouring money into it,” Commissioner Sami Khoury said.
The county also had to open its wallet.
A 2008 leak in the ice rink’s cooling system resulted in antifreeze contamination. No long-term effects and no exposure hazards or contact issues lingered, but the area still had some residual contamination as of May last year, according to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). The DEQ requested studies to confirm the contamination, which the county paid about $18,000 to do.
Also, a new bank account for the county
Wruble, who chairs the finance committee, said the committee met with county treasurer officials regarding the merging of Talmer and Signature banks. The county’s general fund money – about $2.2 million in unrestricted funds at the end of 2013 – may be transferred to another institution, Wruble said.
“We don’t like to keep all our eggs in one basket,” he said.
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