CARO – Talk of wind turbines in Ellington Township was tabled until Monday, when the planning commission met, but made no action on the matter.
The issue will return before the Ellington Township Board of Trustees April 5, giving board members another chance to decide their next plan of action.
In December, several Ellington Township residents started to raise concerns with the township’s current wind ordinance after hearing of NextEra Energy Resources’ plan to bring the wind farm project it calls Tuscola III to parts of Ellington, Almer and Fairgrove Townships.
So far, Ellington Township public officials have heard several complaints from residents about current sound and setback restrictions in the ordinance.
Some residents argue that the current restrictions of 55 decibels of sound from the home, with a setback of 1,320 feet from the home, could take away the property rights from non-participating landowners, and affect their health or quality of life.
Residents asked the board for a six-month moratorium, which would give officials more time to revise the ordinance.
“I think we’ve all heard from many different sides,” said Ellington Planning Commission chairman George Mika. “We’ve all done our research, we’ve all listened and seen the presentations … is there any other discussion we should have?”
“I don’t have anymore questions,” commissioner Joddy Ehrenberg said.
Mika told the planning commission they had three options:
“We can do nothing and the issue dies for a lack of a motion … or we can motion to begin the process to recommend amendments to the wind energy provision … or we can motion to table the manner to a later date … so what’s your pleasure?”
None of the members spoke.
“Sounds like we are taking option number one, we’re not entertaining a motion, so the matter dies for lack of motion,” Mika said.
This disappointed several Ellington residents, even bringing one to tears.
“We honestly didn’t think it would go this way,” said Ellington Township resident Bobbie Mozden. “I think the most surprising thing was that they didn’t even give 30 seconds of silence for somebody to come up with a motion or have any questions …it wasn’t even 30 seconds.”
Mozden said she started following the issue in January when she learned turbines could be installed near her home.
“They (turbines) look majestic,” Mozden said. “Up until this point, before I was educated on them, I thought they were really cool…. they’re harnessing the wind, how cool is that? … but … what if we want to add on to our house?”
Mozden added that she also suffers from chronic pain disorder fibromyalgia, among other health conditions, which is accompanied by fatigue and altered sleep, and if the noise levels become too much, she’d have no choice but to leave her home after living there for 21 years.
“If it starts to affect us, specifically myself and my children … I think I’ll leave,” Mozden said. “A fear is that we’ll have to buy a home in Caro and uproot.”
But Mozden said she and other concerned citizens are doing their best to prevent that from happening.
A few participating and non-participating landowners, including Almer Township resident Jena Becker, told Ellington commissioners and concerned citizens Monday that they’re not bothered by neighboring wind turbines.
Becker declined to speak directly to The Advertiser about the issue.
If the Ellington Township Board decides not to make changes to the wind ordinance, and if they issue wind permits before providing a referendum, Josh Nolan, who legally represents the concerned Ellington citizens, said the residents will have no choice, but to initiate litigation.
Last year, Nolan said Ellington Township Supervisor Duane Lockwood made a motion to approve the wind farm ordinance, right after signing a lease with NextEra Energy Resources in 2014.
Nolan told Lockwood during the Feb. 17 board meeting that Lockwood took that action with a conflict of interest, which is valid basis to overturn the action taken by the township.
Commissioner Eugene Davison said wind turbines have been a tiring issue to discuss.
He argued that if there is this much concern, more people should have attended the meetings when the current ordinance was being adopted.
“I don’t think it’s a closed deal … It’s still open for discussion,” Davison said. “We’ll get through it … I’m glad to see a lot of people involved.”
Mozden said though the outcome of the last meeting was discouraging, the concerned citizens haven’t given up.
“I’m just disappointed…really disappointed in those we elected,” she said. “They’ve let us down, and we’re not going to let it happen again … we’re not done by a long shot … we will fight this.”
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