TUSCOLA COUNTY – The residents of Almer Charter Township will have an opportunity to have a voice on wind farm development in their township.
Township officials approved a wind ordinance on Aug. 31, 2016. Because of provisions in the wind development ordinance, a petition to take the issue to a referendum vote was filed. That issue will be on the May 2 ballot.
The ballot issue asks: “Shall Almer Charter Township Ordinance No. 2016-1, which amends Sections 801 (special uses), 1101 (special uses), 1521 (prohibit storage buildings or structures), and 2402 (special uses permitted) of Almer Township Zoning Ordinance to amend the regulations for wind energy conversion systems (including regulations concerning site assessment and special use permit requirements) be approved?”
Vote “yes” or “no.”
It is a referendum issue because more than 200 township residents signed a petition to take the issue of building a wind farm in the township to a ballot issue.
Voters will be asked to choose if the ordinance accepted in August for Wind Energy Conversion Systems (WECS) should be approved.
“Almer Township has a wind energy ordinance in place; one that provides the residents with a moderate amount of ‘health, safety and welfare’ protection. The current ordinance isn’t convenient for the amount of turbines that the developers wanted in our township,” explained township Supervisor Jim Mantey. “They were successful in getting the previous planning commission and board to propose a more relaxed ordinance (less protective of health, safety and welfare).
“The Almer/Ellington Concerned Citizens filed for the referendum to let the voters decide if the protections to the residents should be relaxed.”
NextEra Energy Resources is in the process of developing Tuscola III Wind Energy Center in Almer, Ellington, and Fairgrove townships. The $200 million project will have 52 turbines with 19 of them in Almer Township.
According to Mantey, “a yes vote equals approval of the ordinance amendment, in a way that is less restrictive and has less protection from any potential negative effects from a nearby turbine.
“And, a no vote would mean the township stays with the existing ordinance that NextEra has already applied under.”
Wind farm development has been an area of contention in Almer and Ellington townships for about two years
Earlier this year Almer Township officials denied NextEra Energy Resources’ request for Special Use Permits necessary to begin construction.
In February, the energy company filed a lawsuit against Almer Township in U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Michigan in Bay City. The lawsuit alleges: township officials systematically tried to prevent the project from going forward, and claims board members were voted into office on an anti-wind agenda, and more.
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