Residents in Moore Township have halted a proposed project to develop a wind farm in Sanilac County.
In February, it was announced that Chicago-based company, Invenergy, would be placing wind turbines on 25,000 acres of private land in Argyle, Lamotte, Moore and Wheatland townships.
The Moore Township board of trustees passed an ordinance at the beginning of May that would allow developers to build wind turbines within 750 feet of a non-participating property line.
Non-participating property means the resident has not agreed to allow Invenergy to develop on their private land. Participating property means residents have entered into an agreement with Invenergy to allow the company to build a wind turbine on their property.
Following the ordinance approval, Raymond Ellis II, of Snover, submitted a petition June 16 asking for a referendum of the ordinance, meaning that the ordinance is frozen until township residents vote on it in November’s general election.
Greg Dorman, Moore Township supervisor, said if residents vote down the ordinance than the township board will have to re-write it.
“From a township point of view this development is income for the township,” Dorman said. “The company had 8,000 acres of land in Moore Township signed up two months ago already and I’m sure they have gotten more since then.”
The wind turbine development allows tax capture for the participating townships, as well as incentives for private land owners that agree to allow Invenergy to build a turbine on their land.
While the referendum has halted the ordinance completely, Dorman said specifically the petitioners felt that the ordinance should have required turbines to be built further away from non-participating property lines.
Ellis was not able to be reached for comment.
Dorman said placing hard restrictions on where turbines can be built makes it challenging for the developers since there are already multiple other restrictions that need to be considered such as how far from a road the company can build and how far from an airport as well.
The limitations could result in the wind farm project not coming to fruition.
“We believe that local officials are elected to office to make important decisions for the benefit of the communities they represent, and they should be empowered to do so. A referendum would seem to undercut the authority of these local officials, and prevent them from doing the important jobs they were elected to do,” Alissa Krinsky, Invenergy director of communications, said in a company statement.
“What is clear is that this is an attempt to stop a wind energy project – and that means denying the community critical economic benefits, and forfeiting a once-in-a-generation opportunity for economic growth.”
Invenergy will continue to sign up residents for land agreements in Argyle, Lamotte, Moore and Wheatland Townships until the outcome of the November vote.
The number of turbines and timeline of development has yet to be determined, but the company estimated more than 100 construction jobs would be produced and up to 10 permanent jobs once the turbines are operational.
Sanilac County already has two wind farms with more than 70 wind turbines between them in Delaware, Marion and Minden Townships. Exelon Corporation and DTE Energy each own one.
Invenergy is hosting two informational open houses for the public to learn more about the project and ask questions.
The open houses are from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday and July 1 at The Dining Room, 422 Woodland Drive, Sandusky. Pre-registration is not required.
Residents can also call the local Invenergy office with questions, which is located at 33 S. Elk Street, Sandusky, at (810) 648-6048.
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