ESCANABA – The public had a second chance to share their thoughts on several proposed wind turbine site plans during a special meeting of the Delta County Planning Commission Tuesday.
On Dec. 4, the planning commission’s regular meeting for the month took place. The commission held public hearings on 40 site plans included in an application from Heritage Sustainable Energy for an addition to its existing wind farm on the Garden Peninsula.
A general public hearing on Heritage’s site plans took place during the planning commission’s special meeting Tuesday. Several Garden Peninsula residents spoke about the proposed addition to Heritage’s wind farm.
Some people in attendance said they were concerned about the effects new turbines (and the setbacks associated with them) could have on their property rights.
“Everyone does have the right to do what they want, until it may affect other people,” Fairbanks Township resident Mike Lang said.
Heritage Chief Executive Marty Lagina said that, as a result of last week’s public hearings, his company has agreed to make some changes to its plans for the addition.
“We have four turbines we’ve eliminated based on comments we heard last time,” he said. The turbines in question had the ID numbers of B4-10FN, B2-24, A1-25, and D3-19. Additionally, Heritage Project Manager Xiomara Cordoba noted Heritage may adjust the placement of turbines B3-19 and D4-19.
The potential environmental impact of turbines was also discussed during the meeting.
“Take a serious look at some of the environmental effects … the literature’s replete with information about the effects on raptors, songbirds, and bats,” Escanaba resident Glenn Vande Water said.
However, Garden Township resident Bill Goldi said that – based on studies done in the area for Heritage – he does not believe the Garden Peninsula’s wind turbines have resulted in the deaths of many birds.
“I personally know my picture window on my house kills 15-20 birds a year … should we do away with picture windows?,” he said.
Discussion on the aesthetic effects turbines have had on the peninsula continued during Tuesday’s meeting, as well. Paul Neumeier, who owns property in Nahma, said the turbines – as well as their aircraft warning lights – have created a visual distraction in the area.
“Who wants those lights?,” he said.
Fairbanks Township resident Dave Gembel said he feels the benefits provided by the turbines have outweighed this.
“It may not be the prettiest thing, but some people don’t mind looking at them,” he said.
As was the case during its regular meeting earlier this month, the planning commission made no formal decisions on Heritage’s plans Tuesday. The commission will begin discussing the plans during its next regular meeting, which has been set for 5 p.m. on Jan. 15 at the Delta County Courthouse.
In other business, the board clarified the definition of the term “interest” in the section of its bylaws dealing with conflicts of interest. They specified that this refers to financial interests.
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