BAD AXE – Huron County could have a five-year moratorium on wind energy by the end of the year.
With another 4-3 vote Tuesday morning, the Huron County Board of Commissioners sent a proposed amendment to its zoning ordinance to the Huron County Planning Commission for review.
The planners must return the amendment to the board by Dec. 20, and the board is expected to consider it Dec. 28.
Commissioner Ron Wruble, who helped pen the resolution with county Corporate Counsel Steve Allen, spoke for about 25 minutes on why the county should enact the moratorium.
With 473 turbines expected to be in operation by year’s end, and another 100 currently proposed, Wruble said he believes the county is “teetering on the cusp of the point of no return.”
“There isn’t a lot of property left in Huron County that doesn’t have wind turbines,” he told his fellow commissioners and a packed meeting room during a power point presentation featuring county maps that showed wind development.
“When do we reach a saturation point when the sheer number in totality causes irreparable harm to our county?”
Commissioner Clark Elftman said he agrees that the county is saturated with wind turbines, but he said a recent survey shows that 70 percent of county residents are in favor of wind turbines.
“We are considered No. 1 as the worst board that this county has ever had. Now that’s something that you guys can be proud of … it just makes me sick when I come here and see the crap that’s going on,” Elftman said.
Wruble said the resolution did not go through the legislative committee.
“I will take full responsibility for this,” he said.
Four referendums may take place this spring, Wruble said: one in Sand Beach Township to oppose changes to their wind ordinance; one in Lincoln Township to oppose the starting of a planning commission there; one to oppose the “Filion layover,” and one to oppose an overlay district in Sherman and Sigel townships if the board approves it.
“This may be a way to circumvent all that bull and get right down to the brass tax of what we’re doing in this county,” he said.
Commissioner Rich Swartzendruber showed a map of wind development in the county as well, also with colored areas showing turbine placement.
“This map is just a little bit misleading,” he said of Wruble’s map.
“Not all of those white areas do we have jurisdiction over whatsoever,” he added, such as Meade Township.
“There may be turbines added in self-zoned townships,” Swartzendruber said. “We have no control over it.”
Wruble noted that Sherman and Sigel townships have land that’s not yet developed for wind energy. There is currently a wind overlay zoning proposed for those townships.
“You’re saying, since we’ve only got this little bit of jurisdiction, hell, let’s let them put them up and go from there.”
Swartzendruber, Elftman and Chairman John Bodis voted against sending the amendment to the planning commission. Wruble, Commissioner David G. Peruski, Commissioner Sami Khoury and Commissioner John A. Nugent voted for it.
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