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Moore Township: Back to the drawing board

Moore Township residents rejected their wind energy-zoning ordinance last week.

There were 246 no and 181 yes votes with a turnout of 57.24% of registered voters.

Citizens unfamiliar with voting procedures questioned the presence of poll observers and supporters of the ordinance.

County Clerk Denise McGuire said her office spent election day fielding calls from voters who wanted to know if things were being done correctly at the polling place.

“They wanted to know if it was permissible for the (wind energy) company to be on the corner. They (Invenergy) was well outside the 100 feet from the entrance to the polling,” she said.

McGuire also heard that voters questioned the presence of representatives of each side of the ballot issue, serving as official observers, in the township hall.

“I encourage people if they had questions to call. Each side had chal- lengers approved and sitting there,” she added.

As for rumors about a recall effort targeting township officials, McGuire said organizers would not have enough time to get the paperwork completed.

She noted the deadline for petitions to be filed is Nov. 20 and the process would take too long to get it done. In addition, the law says officials with four-year terms, which applies to Moore Township officials, can not be recalled in the last year of their terms.

Opponents to the wind ordinance maintained the 750-foot setback from properties without turbines was too close.

“We are not anti wind energy. We say we need to get a proper wind-zoning ordinance… we need proper setbacks and (noise) decibels. You can’t make rules so close to people’s property,” stated Raymond Ellis, who headed up the group that supported the referendum.

However, literature the group put out claims, “Michigan is an expensive (way) to generate wind energy…every turbine built in Michigan could produce nearly twice as much energy in places like Iowa for only $25/MWh (compared to $75/MWh in Michigan).

“We feel that the 1,640 foot distance recommended for employee safety by wind turbine manufacturers Nordex and Vestas is the closest a wind turbine should be permitted to be erected adjacent to an un-leased neighboring property without that property owner’s consent.”

Invenergy issued a statement regarding the outcome of the Moore Township referendum.

“We are disappointed by the results in Moore Township, but we’d like to thank our supporters who saw the benefits of the project and recognized the opportunity to positively change their community. We’ll provide an update on the project and our plans in the near future,” said spokesperson Allyson Putman of FleishmanHillard on behalf of Invenergy.

Township Supervisor Greg Dorman said the next step is to go back to the planning commission.

“We have to redo the (wind energy) ordinance, now we don’t have an ordinance,” he stated.

The referendum organizers plan to keep an eye on the process.

“We still have the planning commission and (township) board to get safe ordinances,” Ellis said.

There are two more referendums on wind zoning ordinances hanging out there as well.

Argyle Township residents have already submitted petitions and Wheatland Township residents are collecting signatures. The deadline for those petitions to be submitted to the township clerk is Dec. 15.

Both referendums are expected to be on the ballot in March with the presidential primary.

McGuire said the governor is expected to sign a bill making the March Primary a regular election instead of a special election so local proposals can go on the March ballot.