BAD AXE – As the deadline for Huron County’s wind moratorium looms, officials are trying to avoid a lapse in the policy.
The deadline is Jan. 18, and planning officials must hold a public hearing in order to amend or extend the policy before it is adopted by the Huron County Board of Commissioners.
The next regular Huron County Planning Commission meeting is Jan. 3.
At Tuesday’s commissioners meeting, Commissioner John A. Nugent said he would contact planning Chairman Bernie Creguer to encourage him to make revisiting the policy a priority.
“I think it’s unfortunate that we’re at this point,” Nugent said. “At the last minute, we’re talking about an amendment or extension … when the planning commission has had this for a year. It’s unfortunate that we have reached this stage.”
If there is not enough time for planners to conduct a public hearing and make a recommendation to the board of commissioners, Huron County Corporation Counsel Stephen Allen said that the county should have some wiggle room.
The moratorium is in effect until various matters regarding potential wind energy development have been resolved, or until a year passes since the moratorium was put in place – whichever happens first.
Although a year will have passed on Jan. 18, not all issues have been resolved, Allen said.
Voters turned down two wind overlay districts in several townships this year, and two townships elected to become self zoning.
However, those townships – Lincoln and Sherman, where the majority of turbines would have been located – have not adopted zoning ordinances.
Officials noted completion of the Huron County Master Plan was also a condition of ending the moratorium, and that has not happened.
Allen added: “If we have a gap in the interim, any potential developer out there would be aware of this discussion.”
“They’re not going to be to the point where they’re going to have any vested right if they do file an application during the gap period,” he added.“Vested rights would be to have a construction permit and to have substantial development into the earth.”
Jeff Smith, county building and zoning director, said he plans to work with Allen, Nugent and the planning commission to coordinate the next step.
He noted a final draft of the master plan is expected soon from the Spicer Group.
Smith also said that some wind developers are letting leases expire with landowners where voters have said no to wind development.