JUNIATA TOWNSHIP – More turbulence is brewing over wind farm development in Juniata Township.
A recall of four out of the five members of the Juniata Township Board has started. Targeted for recall are Supervisor Neil Jackson, Clerk Heidi Stark, Treasurer Andrew Stark and Trustee Elaine Schunn. The only member not listed is Trustee Brenda Wachner.
The area of contention is NextEra Energy Resources LLC’s request for special land use permits (SLUP) for 31 turbines in Juniata Township for its Pegasus Energy Center. That is to tie in with the company’s Tuscola Wind I and Tuscola Wind II in Tuscola County, and with the Pheasant Run (wind) farm in Huron County. The $200 million Pegasus project also includes 32 turbines in Fairgrove Township.
The Tuscola County Election Commission will hold a clarity/factual hearing at 11:30 a.m. Jan. 8 in the Tuscola County Probate Courtroom on the proposed recalls. The commission consists of Fetting, Probate Judge Nancy Thane, and Treasurer Patricia Donovan-Gray.
Some of the petition’s allegations against Jackson, Heidi and Andrew Stark claim they failed to protect the safety and welfare of the community by not doing a moratorium on wind development. It also alleges that the officials failed to review and amend conflicting ordinances; failed in their fiscal responsibilities; voted to hire an inexperienced engineering firm; and that NextEra should pay for studies. Finally, the petition says that they violated the Open Meetings Act because a meeting was held in a tent where not everyone could see or hear.
Heidi Stark is also charged with allegedly failing to provide notifications to all property owners.
The petition claims Schunn failed to review and amend conflicting ordinances; did not protect the health, safety and welfare of the community by not stopping an unsafe meeting in a tent; and has a conflict of interest as leaseholder and payments relating to NextEra.
The township’s planning commission was to have reviewed the special use permit in November but decided more time was needed for review. The meeting was rescheduled to Dec. 9, to be held in a tent using propane heaters because the township hall only has a seating capacity of 45. Over 100 people attended the rescheduled meeting, which was suspended because attendance also exceeded seating and the heaters were considered a hazard because of the crowd.
The aborted planning commission meeting is rescheduled for 6 p.m. Jan. 3 at the Akron-Fairgrove High School.
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