HURON COUNTY – Commissioners voted 5-1 to again halt wind-energy development during their final meeting of the year, Thursday, Dec. 29.
Clark Elftman voted against the one year moratorium. Ron Wruble, who proposed the idea of a five-year break in new wind development after hearing multiple turbine-related complaints from constituents, was absent from the meeting due to the death of a close family member.
John Nugent, who is also a member of the planning commission, said county planners reviewed Wruble’s proposal and heard citizen comments during a public hearing on Dec. 14. Following that meeting, Nugent proposed reducing the timespan to one year, but include an option to renew as needed.
The planning commission voted to recommend Nugent’s proposal to the Board of Commissioners, which has the final say in amendments to the zoning ordinance.
Commissioner Richard Swartzendruber said he was opposed to a lengthy moratorium, but he supports the abbreviated plan.
“Because of the shorter length of time and a more specific reason for a moratorium, I could support it as it’s presented,” he said.
John Bodis added some county-zoned townships have indicated a desire to become self-zoned, and the moratorium would give those boards time to create their own planning commission and zoning ordinance.
According to information from the Huron County Building and Zoning Office, there are currently approximately 473 wind energy systems operating countywide, or at the end stage of construction, soon to be under commercial operation.
Two projects, owned by DTE Energy and NextEra-Huron Wind LLC, are in the application stage and are expected to result in an additional approximate 100 wind energy systems. The Apple Blossom Wind Energy project, owned by Sempra Energy, has previously been approved and is in the process of obtaining permits for construction. Those three projects are specifically excluded from the moratorium.