February 15, 2018

BOC votes to approve wind energy moratorium

By John Bonke, Staff Writer | Huron County View | 2018-02-15 | huroncountyview.mihomepaper.com

HURON COUNTY – The Huron County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously this week to extend the moratorium on the issuing of permits, licenses and granting property approvals for wind energy conversion facilities.

About 50 people attended the Committee of the Whole meeting and regular meeting. Several spoke during the public comment periods. Many said the voters made it clear they want a moratorium and changes to the existing ordinance. Others said the county planning commission is dysfunctional.

Another topic discussed were two resolutions on the agenda to have planning commission members Terry Heck and Robert McLean “investigated for misfeasance, malfeasance, or nonfeasance in office and if such charges are substantiated to have written charges prepared for a public hearing before the Huron County Board of Commissioners for the removal of said member from the Planning Committee.”

Both resolutions failed 2-4-1. Voting yes were John Bodis and Steve Vaughan. Voting no were Sami Khouri, John Nugent, Todd Talaski and Ron Wruble. Dave Peruski was absent.

Commissioner Nugent questioned the resolutions. He asked how the investigation would be conducted and charges substantiated, who is the complainant and what are the charges, how would the board find a trained investigator and attorney and would any findings be given to the sheriff or the prosecuting attorney.

Nugent also said he feels the two have been denied due process and “have been tried in the press.” He said no one would be satisfied due to the controversial wind energy topic and an investigation would be a lose-lose situation all the way around.

Nugent said “this is no way to treat appointed members (of a board)”. He suggested that planning commission members be instructed in the rules of the meetings as a solution.

Commissioner Wruble questioned how determinations can be made if planning commission members can’t discuss issues and questioned what remedies are under the current wind ordinance.

Wruble said constituents have been asking him what the process is for addressing wind turbine complaints and what are the remedies. Wruble said he feels people think, “nothing will happen, so why bother?”

McLean, the planning commission vice chair, was present during the meetings and said his legal counsel stated there is no basis in law for the investigation.

McLean said the charges are “baseless” and the effort is a “witch hunt.” McLean said that if investigated he would defend himself to the fullest extent of the law and seek to recover monetary damages and losses.

McLean also said that during the recent votes related to wind energy the people spoke loud and clear.

Another planning commission member, Dr. Robert Oakes, warned the planning commission would fail if the board of commissioners did not fix the problem and should vote in favor of the resolutions. Oakes also noted the State of Michigan has set a 40-percent renewable energy goal.

After the resolutions failed, McLean said everyone should unite and work at fixing the problems.

In other business, the board: established hourly rates of pay for ice arena attendants; employed Sheryl Jahn as a full-time deputy treasurer; employed Linda Gembarski as a part-time custodian; approved family medical leave requests of Mitchell Holdwick, Cristine Koglin and Jessica Testolin-Reinke.

URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2018/02/15/boc-votes-to-approve-wind-energy-moratorium/