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Zoning Board of Appeals votes against wind farm

In a 6-0 vote Tuesday night, the Livingston County Zoning Board of Appeals voted against the proposed Pleasant Ridge Wind Energy Project.

The advisory vote didn’t come without much discussion from board members. After months of hearings and countless pages of testimony, attorney Tom Blakeman instructed the board to evaluate all of the evidence to make a determination. Acting chairman Michael Cornale acknowledged the time, effort and resources put into the hearings.

“I want to thank everyone throughout this process,” he said.

Zoning Board members spent the evening deciding whether or not the wind energy application met or did not meet the standards of a special use permit. They had the choice to deny, grant or grant subject to special use conditions.

Joan Huisman raised questions over financial assurance. She said the only financial assurance she saw was a bank letter.

“We don’t have any dollars to look at.”

The board mirrored an earlier decision from the Planning Commission that the project does not meet the comprehensive plan and the WECS ordinance. Whether or not the project would endanger public health or general welfare prompted a few comments.

“That’s a hard question to answer because no two people are the same,” said John Vitzthum.

“Based on the evidence, there’s a question mark,” added Richard Kiefer.

Agriculture and land values were also taken into consideration by board members. Kiefer believes the company has somewhat addressed property values and guarantees. Board members seemed to agree the project would not impede growth or development in an ag zoning district.

Diana Iverson noted the possible inconvenience the project could cause during harvest season and for school buses traveling on country roads. Kiefer said anything that changes habits is an inconvenience.

Huisman made the initial motion for the vote with a second by Kiefer. The issue now goes before the Livingston County Agriculture, Zoning and Emergency Services Committee today at 5 p.m. for consideration and the entire Livingston County Board has the final say. A date on the final vote has not yet been scheduled.