BAD AXE – Slowing the process of getting a new wind energy ordinance for the county isn’t bothering some residents.
“I feel there’s a tendency, a human tendency, (of) ‘Let’s finally get rid of this thing and pass something,’ ” Keith Iseler of Port Hope said Wednesday when county planners met, commending their efforts before again reviewing a new rulebook for wind turbines.
Iseler said he’s a member of the board of review for his township. He said when people come in to complain they’re paying too much in taxes “that is not a reason, that is an opinion.”
“I would urge you to use reasons and not just say, ‘Well, we’ve got to do something for these people because they’re whining,’ ” Iseler said.
Another resident gave planners a different perspective.
Paul Holz of Bad Axe asked how long the county has discussed making changes to wind regulations.
“A year, year and a half?” Holz said.
“More like 10,” Planning Chair Clark Brock responded.
Holz then asked how many people at meetings spoke negatively of wind energy.
“Two-hundred?” he said.
Brock said he wouldn’t be able to answer that.
Holz then made his point.
“We have approximately 25,000 registered voters in Huron County. I looked it up on the Internet. You take 200 divided by 25,000, that’s eight-tenths of a percent of the population of Huron County that are saying we have something negative against wind turbines,” Holz said.
(According to the county clerk’s office, Huron had 26,213 registered voters in the November 2014 election.)
“So we’re spending all this time trying to make changes for less than 1 percent of the population. I’m not sure that’s in the best interest of what we’re trying to achieve.”
Officials aren’t rushing it, either.
Here’s a rough list of sources planners have taken input from or consulted while crafting the ordinance: several residents opposed and supportive of wind energy, medical professionals, attorneys, peer-reviewed articles, other wind energy ordinances, sound engineers and consultants, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, township supervisors. And, wind developers – two of which recently offered to pay for a Grand Rapids acoustics firm to visit the county for more help.
With advice from Stephen Allen, attorney for the board of commissioners, they know it will take time. In July, Allen said expertise must be met with expertise.
“I don’t think we should deviate … when we’ve got (wind developers) who are paying big money for their experts out there and who are saying that our proposals are exclusionary,” Allen said previously.
“Whether that expert’s right or wrong, at least we’re basing our decision on reason and not because we didn’t like the number that was selected by either the special committee or the planning commission. I want it to be as defensible as possible.”
As it stands, the now 16-page draft restricts turbines from being put within three miles of the shoreline; caps turbine heights; increases distances turbines must be placed from property, public roads and power lines; adds and tightens sound regulations; and adds limits for shadow flicker.
To get the rules in place before the county’s moratorium on wind energy expires, officials must finish the new ordinance by Nov. 1.
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