As Moore Township in Sanilac County faces a wind referendum in the November election, a group of concerned citizens held a meeting on Saturday with experts in the fields of zoning and acoustics. About 80 people attended the meeting at St. Joseph’s Parish Hall in Argyle Township to discuss the makings of safe zoning ordinance and how the different sounds produced by wind turbines affect the body. Stating from the beginning that this was not an anti-wind meeting, organizer Raymond Ellis said that everyone came in as friends and should leave as friends.
The first speaker was Kevon Martis of the Interstate Informed Citizens Coalition (IICC). The website for the groups says they are, “a non-profit corporation dedicated to raising public awareness of the potential impacts from the construction of industrial wind turbines in our region.” Martiss spoke about how specific language used in local zoning ordinances could prevent them from being built, limit the height they could be, limit how many could be erected within the area, and determine how close or far away they can be to an existing structure. His concern was that zoning boards consider the health, safety, and welfare of residents as they make their decisions. The main focus of the speech by Martiss was on setbacks, or the distance of a turbine from a residence. He said that safety regulations from the company that manufactures the 100 meter tall turbines requires a safety zone of 1,640 ft from the center line of the turbine to a home in case of fire or other accident.
Richard James, an acoustics specialist of over 40 years, was the second to speak. Using specialized instruments, he has conducted studies of the ambient and infra-sound made by wind turbines. He has had his research published several times and is a frequent expert witness in cases involving the noise levels of wind turbines. He used studies from the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) that stated that adverse affects begin at around 35-40 decibels. However, he says, these do not take into account the low frequency sounds produced by turbines that may cause serious affects but may be inaudible.
Two Thumb residents spoke of their experiences with turbines nearby. Zach Kramer of Minden City was the first to give his story. He said some residents are forced to sign contracts that forbid them from making a complaint. He said, “Individuals should be concerned about doing the right thing versus collecting another check.” Kramer continued, “Right or wrong, let’s think of our neighbors and not just our check books.” Following him was Richard Krohn, a farmer from Elkton. He said, “You give them permission, they tromp all over your farms, they wreck (field) tile, and ruin the ground for who knows how many years.” He also said, “I don’t mean to be to be anti-wind, but I don’t believe that the investment that goes into those things can justify our dollars that go into building them.” “The most important thing is the health, safety, and welfare of the people. Money doesn’t do you any good if you don’t have any health,” said Krohn.
The event was paid for with regulated funds by the Concerned Citizens of Argyle and Moore Townships with help from Darlene Doerr of Argyle Township and Raymond Ellis of Moore Township. A wind referendum is scheduled for a vote in early 2016 for Argyle Township. On its Facebook page, the group says, “Your NO vote will say no we do not want this ordinance adopted as written, we want the ordinance rewritten with proper setbacks taking into account the health, safety and welfare of all Moore township residents. This is NOT a NO VOTE on wind energy rather a NO vote on the present ordinance as it is written.” (Emphasis theirs.)
Following the presentations, the speakers took questions from the audience. Refreshments were also provided.
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