BAD AXE – Here’s a look at business county planners look to take care of tonight. The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. in room 305 at the county building.
Plans for another wind project
Huron County is the state’s unofficial wind energy capital – and another project is in the works.
DTE Energy is eyeing more than 20,000 acres across four townships for the newest spread.
The utility sent a letter dated Feb. 24 to the county requesting a wind energy overlay district, which, if approved by county planners, would deem areas suitable for construction of a wind project. Planners are set to review DTE’s request tonight. Read more on project plans here: http://bit.ly/1Qoc7hZ.
Turbines “create a definite hazard”
At least two aircraft organizations say wind turbines will endanger pilots.
An agenda item includes a Feb. 1 letter from the Michigan Private Airstrip Owners Association regarding the 30-turbine Apple Blossom Wind Project.
Stephen Zelle, president of the Michigan Private Airstrip Owners Association, says a turbine the developer plans to build “creates a definite hazard to any aircraft landing on or taking off” from the Riverside Airport north of Campbell Road and west of Caseville Road.
“In addition, the Scheurer Healthcare heliport would be affected by (the turbine),” Zelle’s letter states.
The problem, according to Zelle, is red lights are required to mark turbines, but they do not indicate the higher turning blades, creating hazards for aircraft both at the private airstrip and helicopters approaching the hospital’s helipad.
Another aircraft organization says it has concerns for the same turbine.
In a Jan. 6 letter to the county, Great Lakes Regional Manager Bryan Budds of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, a Maryland-based nonprofit that advocates for general aviation, said the increasing number of wind turbines threatens the ability for a McKinley Township landowner to safely operate a private airstrip. (Story: http://bit.ly/1Q7FEf4.)
A Geronimo representative told county planners: “It’s a little bit late in the process for us to do anything.” Because the airstrip isn’t registered and is not for public use, planners say their hands are tied in terms of local regulation.
In order to build a turbine, developers must obtain a determination of no hazard to air navigation from the FAA and a tall structure permit from the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT). Geronimo says it has these approvals.
$9 million natural gas project moving forward
Consumers Energy plans to build a natural gas compressor near Sebewaing and Bay Port roads. According to plans submitted to the county, it would be built on a 3-acre site the utility purchased from a farmer. A 7-foot fence would surround a nearly 1,900-square-foot building housing the compressor. A nearly 500-square-foot auxiliary building also is planned.
The compressor will bolster the utility’s natural gas system and help ensure a reliable natural gas supply to customers in Huron and Tuscola, particularly in the fall during grain drying season, according to Consumers Energy spokeswoman Debra Dodd.
Planners approved the project in January (http://bit.ly/1TT4geW). The utility is asking planners to release land enrolled in the state’s PA 116 program, through which farmers contract to keep their land in farming and not develop it, to move forward with the project.
A master plan for Huron County
Spicer Group, the firm officials chose to update Huron’s 1993 master plan and hazard mitigation plan, is scheduled to present tonight.
A master plan models land use, zoning, economic development, public transportation and human services for a county or municipality. Officials say the hazard mitigation plan is important for when disaster strikes, that Huron’s has been expired for a year, and the county needs to update it every five years to get federal funding if a flood or other severe weather hits the area.
Contracting with Spicer will cost at least $23,500 to update the master plan and $12,500 for the hazard mitigation plan.
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