Moore Township officials must go back to the drawing board to draft a new wind turbine ordinance after their original draft was voted down during the Nov. 3 election.
The ordinance was rejected by 246 votes to 181.
At the beginning of 2015, Invenergy, a company based out of Chicago, announced plans to build wind turbines on 25,000 acres of private property in Moore, Argyle, Lamotte, and Wheatland townships.
The Moore Township Board of Trustees passed an ordinance in May that detailed zoning rules for the developers.
The ordinance stated that turbines, or affiliated equipment, have to be set back 1,320 feet, or about a quarter mile, from houses; and turbines have to be one-and-a-half time the height of the turbine away from any road, power line or non-participating piece of property, which is about 700 feet.
A petition was submitted in June asking for a referendum on the ordinance.
Sanilac County already has two wind farms with more than 70 wind turbines between them in Delaware, Marion and Minden townships. Exelon Corporation and DTE Energy each own one.
“Since it was voted down it means we have no ordinance at this time,” said Moore Township Supervisor Greg Dorman. “We have to come up with a new ordinance now so it will go back to the planning commission and they will put together a suggestion.”
Dorman said there is no timeline set for when the new ordinance will be drafted. Dorman said discussions will begin at the planning commission’s Nov. 18 meeting.
Dorman said he does not believe the referendum will stop wind turbine development.
“The people who voted against it said they weren’t against windmills, they were just against the distance for setbacks,” Dorman said. “We will have to see what the planning commission comes up with in the new ordinance.”
Invenergy wants shorter setbacks, which would allow it to place more turbines, Dorman said. Residents want the turbines to be built as far from homes as possible.
“There is the possibility that the company can bring a suit against the city if they feel the ordinance is too restrictive,” Dorman said.
In Argyle Township, Zoning Administrator Laura Bopra, expects residents to similarly petition against their ordinance.
The Argyle Township wind turbine ordinance details that turbines must be built 1,320 feet from inhabited structures, however the owner of the dwelling may permit a lesser setback. And turbines must be set back no less than 500 feet from non-participating property lines.
“I know a few residents have gone to the township clerk with their petitions,” Bopra said. “But I don’t yet know the reason they are petitioning.”
Wheatland Township Clerk Tina Terbrack said the township will put its complete ordinance on an upcoming ballot for residents to vote on. Terbrack said she does not yet know which election the vote will happen.
Wind turbine development plans are at a standstill until ordinances are in place. Invenergy has previously stated that the project will produce 10 permanent operating jobs and 100 construction jobs.
Invenergy and Lamotte Township officials could not be reached for comments.
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