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Board shares views on wind turbine rule changes

ESCANABA – The Delta County Board of Commissioners and Delta County Planning Commission shared their views on proposed changes to the county’s wind turbine ordinance at a committee of the whole meeting Tuesday.

No official decisions were made during this meeting.

Instead, it was meant to give local government officials a chance to talk about the ordinance in a relatively informal setting.

“This is our meeting for us to get some work done,” Board of Commissioners Chair Mary Harrington said.

However, County Administrator Ryan Bergman and Zoning and Building Administrator Dan Menacher will write a revised version of a wind turbine-related ordinance amendment based on feedback from this meeting.

The revised amendment will be officially voted on by the board of commissioners during its regular meeting Nov. 17.

Currently, the county ordinance lists turbine setbacks as 1.1 times the height of the turbine to property lines or 1,320 feet from the turbine to the nearest dwelling, whichever is greater.

It was the consensus of the government officials present at the meeting these setbacks should be changed to two times the height of the turbine to the property lines of non-participating residential areas, 1.1 times the height of the turbine to roads and right-of-ways, and 1.25 times the height of the turbine to any other property lines in the new version of the proposed amendment.

Bergman said the 1,320-foot setback from dwellings listed in the current ordinance will not be altered.

“The 1,320 doesn’t change,” he said.

In addition, the proposed amendment would give non-participating property owners the option of signing a waiver to allow for the construction of turbines closer to their property lines than is permitted in these setbacks.

Decommissioning procedures for turbines were also discussed during the meeting.

It was agreed the new version of the proposed amendment should require turbine developers to provide either escrow or a performance bond to fund decommissioning procedures.

Businesses would also be able to convert this escrow funding to a bond.

“For escrows, a lot of times, you’ll see the option of being able to convert it to a bond at some point,” Bergman said.