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Wind turbine debate heads local ballot issues  

Credit:  By Chris Aldridge, Tribune Staff Writer | Huron Daily Tribune | April 9, 2015 | www.michigansthumb.com ~~

HURON COUNTY – Voters will decide a couple key local issues in the May 5 election.

A ballot question that’s gained perhaps the most attention asks whether a wind energy project with up to 58 turbines should continue in Meade Township.

Residents, township officials and attorneys tussled for months at meetings to decide whether areas should be approved for wind development. Rita Parsch, a 60-year-old substitute teacher who’s lived in Meade for 35 years, led an effort to gather more than 120 signatures – only 45 were needed – for a referendum vote after disagreeing with the township board’s decision to approve the project.

Now, it is up to Meade’s more than 525 registered voters to decide.

Ballot language will read: “The Meade Township Board approved an ordinance amendment to establish a wind energy overlay district on November 11, 2014. This approval will allow the development of a wind energy project to continue in Meade Township. Should this ordinance amendment be approved?”

Meade Clerk Florence Penfold, who took office almost 35 years ago, said the petition to file for referendum was a first for the township.

More than 150 landowners have signed 20-year contracts to participate in the $214 million project. DTE says the township would receive about $4 million in turbine tax revenue over 20 years, $5 million would go to local schools and libraries and $7 million to local roads and fire services.

Matt Wagner, DTE wind site development manager, recently told the Tribune that DTE is excited and sees the vote as a hurdle.

“We do think it’s going to be a close race,” Wagner said.

Wagner says DTE is “working on a number of things” if voters say no. He declined to reveal the utility’s backup plans, but said they are talking with landowners regularly.

The Laker School District seeks a $2.6 million bond, mostly for technology upgrades. Superintendent Bob Smith previously said the district plans to redo a technology bond to purchase 3-D printers and add to its robotics education.

Ballot language will read: “Shall Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker Schools, Huron County, Michigan, borrow the sum of not to exceed Two Million Six Hundred Fifty Thousand Dollars ($2,650,000) and issue its general obligation unlimited tax bonds therefor, in one or more series, for the purpose of: acquiring, installing, and equipping instructional technology for the school district’s facilities; remodeling, furnishing and refurnishing, equipping and re-equipping school facilities for technology and security systems; and purchasing and equipping school buses?”

Other questions voters will see include Huron Township’s request for renewal of a six-year, 2.5-mill road millage. Residents would pay $2.50 per $1,000 of taxable value if the millage is renewed at the current rate. It would raise about $94,500 the first year.

The Church School District seeks to renew its 10-year, 18-mill millage for operating expenses to generate about $20,500. The millage is required for the district to receive per-pupil revenue.

Source:  By Chris Aldridge, Tribune Staff Writer | Huron Daily Tribune | April 9, 2015 | www.michigansthumb.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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