LINCOLN TOWNSHIP – Lincoln Township has denied a request to a resident who was seeking information about who recently donated money to the township’s legal fund.
Although part of Arlene Schipinski’s request was granted in part, she said she did not receive the information that she most wanted.
This included: who made an $1,100 donation; who were the guests at the August township board meeting; and a copy of a canceled check for legal services.
“Their avoidance to give me the information I requested reinforces my concerns that the board is being lobbied by special interests and not giving the people of Lincoln Township a voice by allowing it to come to a vote if we want to township zone,” Schipinski said.
Treating it as a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, the township provided some financial data, copies of salaries/contracts for the past four years, copies of letters for and against wind energy from this year, and past meeting minutes.
In a letter to Schipinski, the township stated that regarding the donation, “The township has denied your request because it does not have a public record with those who made private donations and where those donations were made.”
Regarding those who were at the meeting and the canceled check for legal services, the township said that it does not have those records.
Schipinski said she plans to appeal the request.
She first asked for the information at last month’s board meeting.
The treasurer’s report revealed an $1,100 “private donation” to the township’s legal fund.
The township established a $10,000 legal fund at its August meeting, and also adopted an ordinance allowing the township to establish a planning commission, and another that puts a moratorium on wind turbine development.
“I feel the Lincoln Township Board is definitely hiding something by withholding pertinent information regarding their actions by taking money from special interest groups of either anti-wind or pro-fracking,” Schipinski said. “The best way to keep fracking out is to have windmills, so I question who is behind the private donation.”
The township is part of a 39,000-acre wind overlay district currently proposed by DTE Energy that also includes parts of Dwight, Bloomfield and Sigel townships, and would include 50 to 70 turbines.
DTE first proposed the overlay zone in February.
In May, the county spent $5,000 for an outside legal opinion regarding whether or not a dozen residents could be excluded from the project.
The opinion revealed that this would be considered spot zoning.
Upon receipt of that information, the Huron County Planning Commission in July voted 7-2 to recommend that the commissioners approve the project.
When the Huron County Board of Commissioners was scheduled to vote on whether or not to allow the district, it learned that Lincoln had taken steps to self-zone and had put a moratorium on wind development. At a meeting at the Huron Expo Center in August, the commissioners sent the issue back to the Huron County Planning Commission instead of holding the vote.
The planning commission was expected to determine whether or not to act on the issue this week.
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