County zoning officials are continuing to collect information around proposed amendments to their wind energy regulations before making a decision.
The Clinton County Planning and Zoning Commission met Thursday, March 3. During the meeting, the board moved to have amendment supporters reply to comments made by NextEra Energy concerning the proposed amendments.
The county is currently working under a moratorium on all wind energy applications until they can decide what, if any, changes need to be made to their zoning ordinances. The moratorium will run until December or until amendments are proposed and passed. The planning and zoning board will make a recommendation on the amendments with final say resting with the Clinton County Commissioners.
All of this stems from a proposed project from NextEra Energy, which is seeking to build wind turbines in north central Clinton County and portions of DeKalb County.
Concerned Citizens for the Future of Clinton and DeKalb Counties – an opposition group to the proposed wind turbine project – previously submitted amendment proposals to Clinton County, as did Shatto Milk Company, which is concerned with how the turbines might affect their business. Both sets of proposed amendments looked to enact stricter regulations for wind turbine construction and operations while strengthening protections for nearby nonparticipating landowners.
Those two entities recently consolidated their amendment proposals into one document at the request of the board. NextEra representatives then submitted their comments to each of the proposed amendments to the zoning department. With Thursday’s decision, those seeking approval for the amendments will now be asked to comment on NextEra’s comments in the same format
“I would like to have that work done and before me before I make up my mind on anything,” said Planning and Zoning member Steve Mowry, who proposed the format for the additional round of comments.
Through these comments, amendment proponents would outline their positions, which they can later bolster with details in subsequent hearings.
Mark Brady, a Polsinelli legal representative for NextEra Energy, told the board Thursday that they could benefit from engaging a third-party consultant in the matter, adding that NextEra might be willing to help with the costs. Mowry responded that it would need to be on the condition that the planning and zoning board select the group and that the costs be shared in some manner with proponents of the proposed amendments.
Mowry also said Thursday that he would like public input to be the final act of the process before deciding on any amendments and that he would favor cross examination of any expert witnesses brought before the board by NextEra or proponents of the proposed amendments.
Bruce Burdick, chairman for Concerned Citizens, said Thursday that the group had offered a tremendous amount of amendments to the board and offered to regroup those amendments by topic.
Amendment supporters will have until April 7 to submit their comments. Opponents will have until April 22 to submit their rebuttal. The Clinton County Planning and Zoning Commission is scheduled to meet again on Thursday, April 7. Once the board finalizes what, if any, amendments they will consider, a public hearing will be scheduled on the subject.
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