The Ingersoll Township Planning Commission keeps moving forward in its charge to create a wind ordinance.
At its Dec. 18 meeting, the commission finalized a draft of an ordinance. Now it is in the hands of Township Attorney Peter Poznak for review, which is to be concluded by today and then posted on the township website for all to review.
The planning commission hoped to have a public hearing on the draft at its next meeting on Monday, but Poznak needed time to review the ordinance before a public hearing was set.
“There will not be a public hearing at the January Planning Commission meeting,” stated Planning Commission Chair Ron Garrett in an email to township residents. “It is my hope to have the public hearing at the February Planning Commission meeting.”
Since early last year, DTE has been attempting to construct wind turbines on farmland in Ingersoll Township. It has signed up some residents at this point pending a wind ordinance by the township board.
The December meeting of the Planning Commission brought the usual emotional responses and comments from citizens and board members alike.
During public comment, a couple of residents questioned whether any of the planning commission members had a conflict of interest regarding leases.
Those comments led to a tense exchange between commissioners Jacob Terwillegar and Andy Shaffner. The discussion centered on whether any of Terwillegar’s relatives had signed leases with DTE.
Terwillegar does not personally own any property in Ingersoll Township, but stated that his family owns a fair amount of farmland. Then he went on to remind Shaffner that he owned property in Ingersoll Township.
After the meeting was completed, Terwillegar openly shared with the Daily News that none of the Terwillegar family has signed leases in Ingersoll Township. But, they have leases outside the township.
Jacob Terwillegar reminded commissioners that the COI ordinance included the word “potential.”
“There are three farmers sitting on the board with the potential to have wind turbines,” he said.
Garrett finally put a stop to the spat by asking the question, “Are you talking about Ingersoll, or anywhere? I’m looking for some guidance on the question “of inside/outside the township?” Our ordinance doesn’t speak to that and our bylaws don’t speak to that.”
Then the question became: How does the planning commission determine whether the Conflict of Interest Policy refers to out-of-township leases?
“This is a question for our attorney,” Garrett said. “I’m not actually sure how the conflict of interest ordinance is administered. That is something that the township board adopted.”
At Monday’s Ingersoll Township Board meeting, Garrett raised the question to the board regarding the inside/outside issue. The decision was made that Garrett and Township Supervisor Chuck Tabb would seek advise from Poznak and report back.
At its Oct. 15, 2017, meeting, all seven planning commission members stated that they did not have any conflict of interest with the wind turbine issue.
“It was my understanding from somebody that had done some research that there have not been any contracts signed by any planning commission members,” Garrett said.
The planning commission meets again at 7 p.m. Monday, in the Ingersoll Township Hall.
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