HURON COUNTY – After more than a year of fact gathering and debate, the Huron County Planning Commission is prepared to present proposed wind-turbine ordinance changes to the community.
A public hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. Nov. 4, prior to the commission’s next regularly scheduled meeting. Due to the community’s high level of interest in the topic, the meeting will likely take place at a larger venue, such as the circuit courtroom or the county’s Expo Center.
Planning Commissioners made the majority of finishing touches to the proposed ordinance revisions during the board’s last regular meeting on Oct. 7.
The proposed changes include:
• Increasing turbine setbacks from homes and other occupied buildings, roads and powerlines.
• Requiring detailed preconstruction and post-construction sound-level testing.
• Limiting shadow flicker to 30 hours per year.
• Establishing a three-mile setback from the Saginaw Bay and Lake Huron shorelines.
• Increasing the depth of soil restoration at the base of the tower from three feet to four feet when the turbine is decommissioned.
• Limiting turbine height to 499 feet.
Following the public hearing, the planning commission hopes to vote to either approve the proposed ordinance revisions or table it for further discussion. After the changes are approved by county planners, the Board of Commissioners will vote on whether to adopt them.
Planners have indicated they want the process completed as soon as possible, as a six-month county moratorium on new wind development is set to expire prior to the public hearing date.
The ordinance affects only the 16 townships zoned by Huron County.
The ordinance revisions are in part the result of lengthy consideration by a Wind Energy Zoning Committee, which was appointed to research the impact turbines might have on the health, safety and welfare of the community and advise the Huron County Board of Commissioners and the Planning Commission. At the request of the wind energy committee, the county hired Acoustics By Design, a Grand Rapidsbased consulting firm, to help with the technical aspects of the ordinance.
ABD sound experts conducted day and night noise testing within the county, helped with ordinance revisions and attended a joint meeting between the Board of Commissioners and the Planning Commission to explain suggested changes.
Huron County Building and Zoning Director Jeff Smith said the revised ordinance will be posted on the county’s website and within the county building well ahead of the public hearing to give community members ample time for review. Smith will also have printed copies available in his office, room 102 in the county building, and he will send a digital copy to anyone who requests it. To request a PDF of the proposed zoning ordinance amendments, email Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 989-269-9269.
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