BAD AXE – The vote for a DTE Energy proposed wind overlay district has once again been delayed.
The Huron County Board of Commissioners voted 4-3 Tuesday morning to visit the issue at its Oct. 25 meeting once information has been acquired regarding the placement of turbines.
Commissioners voting to delay the decision were Sami Khoury, John A. Nugent, David G. Peruski and Ron Wruble, with Clark Elftman, Rich Swartzendruber and John L. Bodis voting no on the motion, which was made by Peruski and supported by Nugent.
“Nothing happened today,” Bodis said. “That didn’t surprise me.”
He said he felt the time he spent for two years helping to rework the county’s wind ordinance was wasted.
Many residents spoke for and against the overlay district, most of which is in Lincoln Township, with portions in Dwight, Sigel and Bloomfield townships.
Following the vote, Keith Iseler of Port Hope, said, “To delay, delay, delay is to deny.”
The overlay district was first proposed in February, and has run into many hurdles and roadblocks in the past several months.
Peruski explained his perspective.
“I felt that participating landowners need to know where the turbines will be located,” Peruski said. “And the nonparticipating landowners should know where the turbines will be located, so they know how they’re going to be affected.”
He also questioned the legitimacy of wooded areas to be located in the proposed district, and whether that was in compliance with the Huron County Master Plan.
Matthew Wagner, Manager of Wind Development for DTE, said it’s a requirement of the site plan to identify where turbines will be located, but it is not a requirement for the overlay district application.
He added that setbacks are required as buffers to wooded areas.
Prior to the vote, Wagner urged the board to take swift action.
But Michael Homier, attorney for Lincoln Township, said there is no rush to approve the district, and that the people of the township should be able to vote on the issue in May in a referendum.
Homier also had words of criticism for the county master plan, which is being overhauled for the first time in more than 20 years.
“Your master plan is nonsensical. When you read the master plan as it comes to an overlay district, and you tell me what kind of predictive value that gives anybody in the county of where turbines might be located: absolutely none. … You’re supposed to have a revised map. Nobody’s ever seen it.
“If I’m moving into the county, and I say, ‘Where might turbines be located in the future?’ Tell me.
“When you look at the county as a whole, you might as well make the entire county an overlay district. Because that, right now, is what your master plan says.
“You get a permit, as long as we fill these minimal requirements which are ambiguous and vague, it should be approved.”
One resident said each time the overlay district comes to a vote, Nugent finds a way to “back around” the issue. Nugent made the motion in August to send the issue back to the planning commission when the board learned that Lincoln Township wanted to self zone.
“It’s getting to be very disappointing,” Joni Iseler said.
“It occurred to me that they may not be in compliance,” Nugent said. “I’m not going around in circles. What, indeed, I’m doing is trying to ensure that they are actually in compliance with the ordinance. And from what I’m hearing now, I’m not sure.”
Nugent said he had previously discussed with county Corporate Counsel Steve Allen whether or not the overlay district meets the criteria of the master plan.
County resident Glen Iseler had some advice for the board during final public comment: “Maybe you should consider saving the county some money by doing away with the planning commission and your board and just let Steve Allen and Mr. Nugent run it.”