ESCANABA – The Delta County Planning Commission held public hearings on several proposed wind turbine site plans during its regular meeting Monday.
In mid-October, the Delta County Building and Zoning Department received an application from Heritage Sustainable Energy for an addition to its existing wind farm on the Garden Peninsula. The application included 40 site plans for new wind turbines.
No formal decisions on Heritage’s wind turbine site plans were made by the Delta County Planning Commission during Monday’s meeting, which ran from 5 to 8 p.m. However, public hearings were held for all 40 of these site plans during the meeting.
Several Garden Peninsula residents attended the commission’s meeting to share their thoughts on the plans. Among them were people who had issues with the proposed placements of some of Heritage’s new wind turbines – and the impact turbine setbacks could have on their own properties.
“I think you need to revisit your setback requirements,” Fairbanks Township resident Larry Kelly said.
Heritage Chief Executive Marty Lagina said his company could work with concerned people in the area to search for mutually-acceptable solutions if these people have reasonable concerns related to proposed turbine placements.
“We’re willing to look into mitigation,” he said.
Wind turbine setbacks also play a role in determining the impact noise and shadow flicker from turbines can have on residents living nearby, and both noise and shadow flicker were discussed by people in attendance at Monday’s meeting. One person who spoke about the latter subject was Fairbanks Township resident Autumn Moore, who has vertigo.
“If the turbines flickering in my window give me vertigo, then I have to take something for that, and I don’t really want to spend my life medicated,” she said.
Heritage Project Manager Xiomara Cordoba noted Heritage uses conservative models when estimating the noise and shadow flicker proposed turbines would create.
“We don’t want to be pushing the envelope, because – if we go and build the projects on a questionable result – then the onus is on Heritage to fix the problem, if there is a problem,” she said.
The aesthetic impact of wind turbines on the area was discussed during the meeting, as well.
“I think it disrupts greatly from the beauty that Delta County has along that shoreline,” Fairbanks Township resident John Bagley said.
Other people from the area – including Fairbanks Township resident Ron Collins – viewed the turbines differently.
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” he said.
A special meeting of the Delta County Planning Commission will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 12, to continue the public hearing process for the turbine site plans. As was the case for Monday’s meeting, the Dec. 12 meeting is scheduled to run from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Delta County Courthouse. The commission plans to begin formally discussing the turbine site plans during its regular meeting in January.
In other business, the commission approved an amendment to its bylaws clarifying its public comment procedure.
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