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Wind turbine rules on county agenda

ESCANABA – Proposed amendments to the sections of Delta County’s ordinance concerning wind turbines will be the sole subject of the next Delta County Board of Commissioners meeting. This meeting will be held at the Delta County Service Center Tuesday at 5:15 p.m.

County Administrator Ryan Bergman said the choice to focus on this issue for an entire meeting was made because of how high-profile it has become over the past few years.

“It’s an issue that’s been very controversial, as it’s got a lot of opponents and proponents,” he said.

Another factor contributing to this decision was the fact that the board is required to hold one of their two annual statutory meetings in October. As a result, they will have an extra board meeting this month.

“Because we have three meetings this month…we’re using that to our advantage by dedicating one of the meetings to this issue rather than spacing it out,” Bergman said.

No official decisions on the ordinance are likely to be made during the meeting. Instead, its main goal is to give commissioners a chance to talk about proposed amendments to the ordinance, which were suggested by the Delta County Planning Commission.

“This is going to be discussion-based, primarily,” Bergman said.

Commissioner David Moyle, who also serves as a member of the planning commission, said the board will ensure the meeting will be orderly and that everyone who wants to speak will get a chance to do so.

“It’s not going to be a free-for-all,” he said.

The wind turbine ordinance has been under discussion by the Delta County Planning Commission for the past several months, Moyle said. During this time, members of the commission discussed wind turbine-related topics such as setbacks, decommissioning procedures, and noise.

The planning commission officially voted in favor of sending its suggested amendments to the Delta County Board of Commissioners during a special meeting held in late August. These suggestions include a requirement that turbines be measured from their center for the purpose of calculating setbacks, a passage limiting shadow flicker on non-participating dwellings to 30 hours per year, guidelines for estimating the costs of decommissioning turbines, and a requirement that turbine owners try to respond to any complaints they have received within 24 hours.

Bergman said he was thankful to the planning commission for their efforts, which will serve as a starting point for the board’s discussion of the ordinance.

“They (did) a lot of the legwork already,” he said.

Since Tuesday’s meeting will be open to the public, Bergman said anyone interested in the subject of wind turbines is encouraged to attend.

“I think it’s great that so many citizens are getting involved on the issue,” he said.