BAD AXE – The Huron County Planning Commission reviewed revisions to Sand Beach Township’s wind ordinance and sent it back to the township without comment this week.
NextEra Energy Resources officials attended the commission meeting, and called the revisions “exclusionary and discriminatory” to wind energy.
Dan Ettinger, a NextEra attorney, said he believes the intent of the ordinance is to prevent wind development with “unreasonable” sound limits.
NextEra is in the process of trying to establish a wind overlay zone that includes Sand Beach Township.
Recent proposed amendments to the township’s 2013 wind ordinance would limit sound to 40 decibels (dBA) during the day, and 35 dBA at night for landowners who have wind turbines.
For residents without turbines, the limit would be 35 dBA during the day, and 30 dBA at night.
The county wind ordinance allows 50 dBA during the day for participating landowners. At night, it’s 45 dBA.
For nonparticipating landowners, the limit is 45 dBA day and night.
The county planning commission had the option of 1. Reviewing the changes; 2. Concurring with the revisions; or 3. Expressing concerns.
The main differences between the county wind ordinance and the township’s revised wind ordinance, planners said, were the sound restrictions, a required $1 million bond per turbine for decommissioning, and required total removal of the entire turbine footing.
County Building and Zoning Director Jeff Smith said he had reached out to Sand Beach officials about the process used to establish the changes.
Smith said the township did not consult a sound expert to determine the baseline for the community or the sound limits.
He said the ordinance also failed to provide a method by which the numbers had been obtained.
“They try to attack the county ordinance,” Smith said, “and I think the committee and everyone in this room on the planning commission can agree that we can defend our ordinance.”
Sand Beach Planning Commissioner Gary Lily had previously told the Tribune that the specifications for the amendments were taken from the International Organization for Standardization’s 1996 guidelines for noise levels in rural areas, which he said were 35 dBA during the day, and 25 dBA at night.
“I don’t think we want to make comment. … We typically do not give recommendations anyway,” said Clark Brock, county planning commission chairman, before entertaining a motion to send the ordinance back without comment.
The motion passed unanimously.
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