BAD AXE – County planners are scheduled to give their first full response to a “complete rewrite” of wind energy regulations in a special meeting 7 p.m. Wednesday at the county building.
Following the meeting, planners will need to schedule a separate public hearing before the revised wind ordinance can move forward.
If approved, changes would restrict wind turbines from being erected within three miles of the shoreline, limit turbine height and increase minimum setbacks from property, public roads and power lines.
New regulations are drafted in a 22-page document – almost triple the length of a 2010 revised ordinance. A committee with a cast of the county’s commissioners, planners, attorney, building and zoning director and residents – with the help of outside consultants and developers – has worked for more than 18 months to submit a draft.
More than 10 of the 22 pages add regulation for wind turbine noise. Limits also are placed on shadow flicker – a phenomenon caused by turbine blades slicing sun rays to create shadows at a specific time of day.
Chair Clark Brock told planners during a May meeting that wind development in the county would be “severely limited if we pass this.” The new rules would apply to 16 townships that operate under county zoning.
Wind developers, many of which were sent copies of the draft before it was made public, have already responded, claiming the changes are so strict it would zone turbines out of the county.
“I would like to see this project move, whether we agree or disagree,” Brock said, asking members to “come with your thoughts, come with your plans, come with your direction because I would hope we have our last few thoughts on this.”
“I would hope this doesn’t last all summer,” he said.
In Huron County, there are 328 turbines operating. Plans for two wind projects in the works and expansion of another would add about 115 more.
New projects, however, are prohibited under the county’s moratorium on wind energy development. It took effect in May, applies to the 16 county-zoned townships and could hold for up to six months. Officials say the moratorium could be lifted once ordinance revisions are approved.
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