BAD AXE – As the Jan. 18 wind energy development moratorium expiration approaches, Huron County planners are working toward renewing the ban.
The Huron County Planning Commission on Wednesday voted 7-2 to extend the moratorium for another year, but there are still steps in the process that have to be taken before that becomes official policy.
Planners Bernie Creguer and Jeffrey Krohn voted against the extension, and Carl Duda, Mary Babcock, Robert McLean, Terry Heck, Ken Walker, Charles Bumhoffer and Robert Oakes supported it.
County Corporation Counsel Stephen Allen has been working on changing the moratorium language to reflect the past year’s issues that have emerged in terms of wind energy development.
A public hearing date will be determined at the planners’ Feb. 7 meeting, where the public can give feedback on the changes.
After the planners give final approval to the moratorium, the Huron County Board of Commissioners must pass it as well.
The proposed moratorium renewal is for one year, or when the Huron County Master Plan is updated to address wind energy systems – whichever comes first. The motion was amended to contain language indicating that any potential revisions to the county’s wind ordinance must be completed as well.
The only planner that voted in opposition to that amendment was Krohn.
Krohn said the system is working.
“If a developer comes out and wants to build a new project, they’ve got to follow the new (2015) ordinance, and someone can file a referendum, put it to a vote,” Krohn said.
“The people have the final say,” he continued. “It’s proven. It’s worked already.”
Creguer said he doesn’t have a problem with another referendum.
“That way, the people actually get to speak,” he said.
During public comment, Sherman Township resident Ladonna Volmering said gearing up the electorate to defeat the wind overlay districts was no easy task.
“We went through that, and that is not as easy as everyone thinks,” she said. “You need to do what’s best for the people of Huron County.”
There are currently no known proposals to build wind parks in the county.
Oakes questioned what would happen if there were one before the moratorium is in effect.
“What’s the bridge between now and when we get our new moratorium language in?” he asked.
“If somebody came in and dropped a packet in and said ‘We want to start the process,’ then we have to let them go back to the old ones (2015 ordinance), correct?”
“Is there any way we can have the motion so that we can bridge it the way it is until we can change it?”
Allen said that would not be possible.
It would require an amendment to the ordinance. Any amendment to the ordinance requires a public hearing and has to go to the board of commissioners.
“Realistically, they don’t have vested property rights until they’ve got a plan, they get it approved, they start construction, and have substantial materials into the ground,” Allen said.
“So that’s a harsh position to take for a developer that’s been doing all of the background work unbeknownst to us, like so many of those projects started out with, he said.
“But there can’t be any developers left around that don’t know that we’ve taken a stronger stance against wind development, and we’ve had some substantial ‘no’ votes against wind development.
“If they come forward at this point in time, I don’t think we would have a hard time saying, ‘You don’t have vested rights.'”
However, he added: “There is an issue that we’ve got a window there.”
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding