Marlette Township residents will be asked to vote on a wind turbine ordinance during Tuesday’s election.
The ordinance will change the rules for wind turbines in the township if approved.
“I just need to convey to the voters that we are not voting on whether we are going to allow or not allow windmills to come to the township,” said Glen Phillips, Marlette Township zoning administrator. “They already are a permitted use. What we are voting on is a newer, stricter ordinance.”
Phillips said the current ordinance is less restrictive.
A vote ‘yes’ means:
- Windmills on residential properties shall be set back from property lines and right-of-ways no less than a distance equal to 125 percent of the height of the structure.
- That would allow the setbacks from non-participating property lines and right-of-ways to increase to 625 feet.
- Setbacks from inhabited structures should be 1,400 feet.
A vote ‘no’ means:
- The township keeps its original ordinance.
- The minimum set-back from any property line or road right-of-way shall be equal to the height of the tower (i.e. turbine, radio tower, etc.).
- Towers can be 500 feet tall, per Michigan law.
Residents created a petition after opposing the ordinance change, causing the township to push the ordinance to a public vote. Tereasa Rumppz, of Marlette Township, initiated the petition. The petition only required 89 signatures, but 174 were collected. Rumppz could not be reached for comment.
“We had people that are opposed to windmills show up at one planning commission meeting and one township meeting recently and insisted we increase setbacks to at least 2,500 feet from an inhabited structure,” Phillips said. “But that is not something we are going to be able to do because basically we would be zoning (windmills) out then, that is like a half-mile setback.”
Phillips said he is encouraging all community members to come out and vote on Tuesday.
The ordinance update was originally initiated nearly four years ago when Invenergy, a Chicago-based energy, company showed interested in developing a wind farm in Sanilac County.
The company began collecting lease agreements on private property in 2014 from residents who would like a turbine on their property. The originally proposed project would have spanned Argyle, Lamotte and Moore townships as well.
Phillips said the company was losing interest in developing the area because there was too much opposition from residents. He said Invenergy would not be able to move forward unless the ordinance issue had been settled.
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