HURON COUNTY – On Tuesday, voters may decide the future of wind energy development in Huron County.
County-zoned municipalities will determine the fate of two large proposed wind parks. One is primarily in Lincoln Township, and the other is primarily in Sherman Township.
Lincoln Township voters will also choose whether to allow the township to form its own planning commission and become self-zoned.
And Sand Beach voters will determine whether to support a change in its ordinance that limits sound, which opponents say will not allow wind turbine development.
The 16 county-zoned townships are: Bingham, Bloomfield, Brookfield, Dwight, Fairhaven, Gore, Grant, Hume, Lincoln, McKinley, Rubicon, Sebewaing, Sheridan, Sherman, Sigel and Winsor.
Voters there will decide whether to allow DTE Energy to develop a wind farm spanning four townships. It includes 70 turbines on 16,900 acres in Lincoln Township, 4,100 acres in Sigel Township, 2,500 acres in Bloomfield Township and 2,000 acres in Dwight Township.
They will also decide on a NextEra Energy Resources project, Huron Wind LLC. It proposes turbines in Sherman, Sigel, Sand Beach and Delaware townships. Of the 60 planned turbines, 40 are to be located in Sherman Township. Delaware Township is self-zoned and located in Sanilac County.
A “yes” vote on either overlay district would be in support of the development.
A “yes” vote for the Lincoln Township ordinance would be in support of the township becoming self-zoned – a move that could prevent wind development in the township.
Someone in Lincoln Township who supports wind would vote “yes” for each county proposal, and “no” for the township proposal.
And in Sand Beach Township, those in support of wind energy would vote “no,” while those opposed to wind energy would vote “yes.”
Huron County leads the state with 443 turbines standing. Another 29 are scheduled for construction this year.
Huron County Commissioner John A. Nugent said at Tuesday’s Huron County Board of Commissioners meeting that next week’s vote “will guide the commission from this point forward.”
He said this “important” vote will say to the board, either “Yes, we want more turbines,” or “No, we don’t want more turbines.”
The language of the referenda is as follows:
• Proposal 1, county-zoned municipalities (first proposal on the ballot):
Huron Wind LLC’s Overlay District in Sigel and Sherman townships
“Should the electors residing in the zoning jurisdiction of Huron County approve an amendment to the Huron County Zoning Ordinance which would add a wind energy overlay district classification to agricultural land located in portions of Sigel and Sherman townships, as specifically described in the ordinance, adopted at a meeting of the Huron County Board of Commissioners held on Dec. 13, 2016?”
• Proposal 2, county-zoned municipalities: (second proposal on the ballot)
DTE’s Overlay District in Bloomfield, Dwight, Lincoln and Sigel townships
“Should the electors residing in the zoning jurisdiction of Huron County approve an amendment to the Huron County Zoning Ordinance which would add a wind energy overlay district classification to agricultural land located in portions of Bloomfield, Dwight, Lincoln and Sigel townships, as specifically described in the ordinance, adopted at a meeting of the Huron County Board of Commissioners held on Oct. 25, 2016?”
• Lincoln Township proposal: (This will be found third from the top for Lincoln voters only)
“Shall Lincoln Township Ordinance No. 2016-01, an ordinance creating a planning commission with the powers and duties set forth in the Michigan Planning Enabling Act, MCL 125.3801 et seq., be approved?”
• Sand Beach Proposal: (This will be the only proposal for Sand Beach voters)
Shall Sand Beach Township Ordinance No. 0822, which amends Article VII(A) of the Township Zoning Ordinance, entitled “Sand Beach Township Wind Energy Conversion Facility Overlay Zoning Ordinance” to revise Section 2 (definitions), Section 3.2 (principal of accessory use), Section 5.1 (site plan review), and Section 5.3 (application materials, including avian analysis, visual appearance, lighting and power lines; shadow flicker; setbacks; separation and security, and sound pressure level), be approved?
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