Residents in Adams Township are taking a stand against a proposed wind farm.
At a public meeting in Baltic, concerned citizens packed the township hall to hear a presentation by representatives from Farm Wind Energy and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. At issue was a request by Farm Wind Energy developer Dave Hokens to amend a local ordinance that prohibits wind turbines from being closer than 3,000 feet from any adjacent property lines, roads or houses.
Hokens wanted that ordinance changed to 500 feet from adjacent property lines and 1,500 feet from homes and he had indicated he would consider forcing the matter in court, if necessary. Regional Energy Coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Jeffrey Gosse explained the negative impact the wind farm could have on migrant birds and bats in the Keweenaw, including the northern long–eared bat, recently listed as a threatened species.
Farm Wind Energy representatives described the perceived benefits of installing seven 400–foot wind turbines, including a less expensive energy option for utility companies and tax benefits for the local area. Adams Township Supervisor Gerald Heikkinen noted that there were many doubts about the tax benefits and that the township had not been provided any details on a proposed business plan or land lease agreements from Farm Wind Energy.
Other concerns raised by residents included the noise factor, especially low frequency outputs suspected of causing health problems for those living nearby. The company confirmed that they had not yet found a buyer for their energy and there was still a lot of work to do.
But with the township board reaffirming their ordinance on turbine setbacks, Farm Wind Energy Representative Eric Udelhofen said it’s basically back to the drawing board.
Udelhofen said, “What will happen is that we’ll go reevaluate, put the currently enforced ordinance setbacks based on the adjacent residences and the adjacent property lines and see what land is available, if any. It certainly won’t work for the currently proposed turbines so they’ll need to move, for sure.”
Exactly what happens next is up to the company, but at least for now Heikkinen was thrilled to see so many people come out to voice their opinion.
Heikkinen said, “When I seen all those people in the room tonight, it was overwhelming yet it was a little bit of a relief off my shoulders that I could represent them and let them know exactly what’s going on with this wind farm in Adams Township. As I mentioned in the meeting, there was a lot of speculation about wind farms, but people really didn’t know about it.”
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