BURNSIDE TWP. – The Burnside Township Board of Trustees may have been on the verge of taking action Monday on recommended amendments to its zoning ordinance regarding wind energy developments, but fate had other plans.
At about 8:30 p.m., the power went out during the board’s regular meeting, just as officials from DTE Energy were being asked questions related to a wind energy project in the early stages for northern Lapeer County.
During the meeting, a public hearing was held on proposed amendments with regard to commercial wind energy developments to the township zoning ordinance
The proposed amendments are the result of months of work put in by the township planning commission – including three public hearings already held – and tweaks suggested by the board of trustees at recent meetings.
“I intended to make a presentation … and just as I started to ask DTE (officials) a question and just as the words started coming out of their mouth the power went off and never came back on,” Denney said.
“I don’t think the irony was lost on anyone,” he said.
Reportedly, about 1,300 DTE customers around Brown City (including Burnside Township) lost power at about 8:30 p.m. because of what was identified as an “equipment problem.”
Denney said the board could’ve still taken action, but that it was challenging to have a meaningful dialogue on such an important issue when the township hall was essentially lit up by flashlights from smartphones.
“It was more about just being able to digest the material they had just gotten, being able to listen to my presentation, and they had heard some things from DTE that they wanted to digest,” Denney said.
Burnside Township is one of three in north and northeast Lapeer County where DTE Energy has confirmed securing land for a “wind energy development” and it is in “the very early stages of talking to area landowners about a possible project at some point five to 10 years from now.” The other two are Burlington and North Branch townships, where officials have enacted moratoriums to allow for more time to develop up-todate zoning ordinances pertaining to wind.
Burnside Township is closest to having an updated ordinance in place.
The township board was set to vote on proposed amendments to the zoning ordinance at its regular monthly meeting on Monday, Dec. 18.
Denney said per state law the township board is not required to have a public hearing before it takes action on such recommendations – unless “one interested party in the township formally demands a public hearing.”
The township received one such request, he said, but not in time to make it on the December agenda.
As a result, it was set for Monday (Jan. 22).
Now, Denney said the matter will likely be on the board’s Feb. 26 meeting agenda.
Cindy Hecht, a spokesperson for DTE, said the company appreciates “that the township is taking its time with this and considering different perspectives.”
“There were a lot of residents who attended and spoke at the meeting who support wind in Burnside and who talked about how revenue from wind could benefit the community as well as helping individual farmers with extra revenue that could, in some cases, preserve family farms,” Hecht said.
“DTE Energy also presented some additional information that we hope was helpful in the decision making process.”
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