Robert Gaffke's noise complaint against Heritage Sustainable Energy continues, and the board once again spent considerable time debating how to settle it. Gaffke, of Bloomfield Township, has been complaining since October about a clunking noise coming from a turbine that is part of the Big Turtle Phase II wind farm. He will not allow the company chosen by Heritage to do any noise testing on his property. Gaffke said that wind developers have an "integrity problem." Shortly after he filed the October complaint, Heritage officials offered Gaffke a wind lease, in which he said he would have had to sign off from complaining.
BAD AXE – The Huron County Planning Commission received a lesson in Robert’s Rules of Order this week.
Corporate Counsel Steve Allen addressed the commission:
“I had contact with two planning commission members after the last meeting that were concerned about the lack of control or decorum during the meeting, not only between the planning commission, but some members of the audience.”
Although the commission bylaws say that parliamentary procedure in the meetings should be informal, Robert’s Rules of Order takes effect when things get out of order, Allen added.
That means no one may speak unless recognized by the chair, and members of the public must address the board, not each other.
Members of the public cannot expect an answer from the board if they ask a question.
One question may be considered at a time, and one person has the floor at any time.
“All members have equal rights, privileges and obligations,” Allen cited the rules as saying.
“Personal remarks are always out of order,” he added, as he described an outline of the rules.
Robert’s Rules were designed after the U.S. Congress, Allen said. “The larger the body, the more specific rule you have to follow.”
“Again, we rely on the informal, but we can’t let it get out of line.”
Business must be conducted at a civil level, respecting the rights of all, Allen said.
The planners also discussed the challenges of blight enforcement.
“Blighted properties in Huron County are getting out of control,” said Jeff Smith, county building and zoning director.
“From a township-supervisor point of view, it’s hard to enforce,” said Bernie Creguer, commission chair and Meade Township supervisor. “You’re always, like, a day behind. You go to the door, and all of a sudden they’re not home … I have to check all the time. It’s hard to enforce it.”
The county cannot adopt a blight ordinance, Allen said, but municipalities can band together and adopted a uniform blight ordinance.
“The county could then contract with those townships to enforce it through (the Huron County Sheriff’s Office),” Allen said.
“The sheriff’s office cannot enforce ordinances unless there’s a contract between the county and that particular township. Each township would then contribute a share for ordinance enforcement,” he added.
The discussion was sparked by the availability of a Michigan State Housing Development Authority Blight Elimination Program.
Publicly-owned property that is vacant, blighted and a nuisance and that has no environmental contamination is eligible for the funding.
June 21 is the deadline for applications.
Gaffke complaint continues
In other business, Robert Gaffke’s noise complaint against Heritage Sustainable Energy continues, and the board once again spent considerable time debating how to settle it.
Gaffke, of Bloomfield Township, has been complaining since October about a clunking noise coming from a turbine that is part of the Big Turtle Phase II wind farm.
He will not allow the company chosen by Heritage to do any noise testing on his property.
Gaffke said that wind developers have an “integrity problem.”
Shortly after he filed the October complaint, Heritage officials offered Gaffke a wind lease, in which he said he would have had to sign off from complaining.
The county, under the 2010 wind ordinance that governs Big Turtle II, has no power to designate who does the testing, Smith said.
Saying that Gaffke has a legitimate complaint, Commissioner Robert McLean suggested using the per-turbine allowance to fund hiring someone else to do the study.
“I don’t like that it appears we’re demonizing Mr. Gaffke,” McLean said.
Commissioner Robert Oakes said Epsilon, the company that Heritage is contracted with to do sound testing, should be allowed to conduct initial testing, and if a second opinion is warranted, the county should allow it.
Smith suggested a peer review of the data compiled by Epsilon.
Heritage has plans to sound test for the wind farm’s required sound study May 10, and has chosen alternate locations if Gaffke does not allow sound testers onto his property.
Officials agreed that the best data would be that garnered from testing on Gaffke’s property.
Gaffke said he will think about allowing the test if the data is peer reviewed and subject to a second opinion.
He said he would decide by Monday.
Officials provided Gaffke with the testing protocol required under the 2010 ordinance.
Other noise complaints that the board discussed included one from the Marjorie Elenbaum Trust regarding the ITC substation located at 2255 Brown Road in Winsor Township. Dale Hass also has a noise complaint against Deerfield Wind Energy.
In other business
• McLean was appointed to the Huron County Zoning Board of Appeals.
• The planners scheduled the next Huron County Master Plan meeting for 7 p.m. June 14. The bylaws committee will meet at 5:30.
• Huron County Commissioner Sami Khoury attended the meeting as a liaison from the Huron County Board of Commissioners. He will be a non-voting member, but will participate in discussion.
• Planners took no action on the Michigan State University Extension sample zoning for wind energy systems, since the university pulled the document from its website and is conducting further investigation into the issue.
• The commission also took no action on a PA 116 (state farmland preservation program) partial termination application by Karen R. Volz. She was seeking to withdraw 1.87 acres from the program.
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