BAD AXE – County planners are set to review a legal opinion tonight that determines whether or not residents can opt-out from a wind energy project.
The first item of unfinished business on Wednesday’s agenda is to discuss “DTE Energy’s proposed wind overlay zone in Bloomfield, Dwight, Lincoln and Siegel townships.”
DTE is planning to build 50 to 70 new turbines that cover more than 39,000 acres and 61 square miles across the four townships. The proposed wind energy overlay district spans the following townships in acreage: 22,080 in Lincoln and 5,760 each in Dwight, Sigel and Bloomfield.
At last month’s meeting, those opposing and supporting turbines addressed the planning commission regarding the plan to bring more turbines to the county.
However, at the June meeting, planners were still waiting on a legal opinion from Clark Hill PLC on how to handle the residents’ requests.
The board of commissioners reviewed that opinion at its July 15 meeting and it was pretty clear and straightforward. Once a resident has signed the contract, they cannot opt-out.
“We will more than likely look at it, but it’s an opinion and it wasn’t so much of the opt-out as it was the spot zoning and opt-outing that we looked at,” Planning Commission Chairman Clark Brock told the Tribune on Tuesday.
In part, the firm’s five-page opinion states: “… It is our opinion that a decision to permit property owners to opt out will likely be constructed as spot zoning because it creates small-scale zoning pockets within the larger overlay district.
If challenged, the county’s action in allowing owners to opt out may be invalidated. Accordingly, it is not recommended that the county allow property owners to opt out of the overlay district.”
Spot zoning can occur when officials zone a small parcel or area for uses contrary to its surrounding areas.
“I assume in our (planners) conversations dealing with the latest proposal that DTE has, we will probably have a conversation about how that affects that project,” Brock explained. “… We as well as the county commissioners have addressed it (the opinion) so it will be in our possession as we look at that project.”
The meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. in Huron County District Courtroom Room 105. Copies of the legal opinion are available to the public at the county building.
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