Does Ingersoll Township’s Conflict of Interest policy pertain only to in-township wind turbine leases? Or, does it also pertain to out-of-township wind turbine leases?
That question prompted the Ingersoll Township Planning Commission to table its proposed wind draft ordinance for another month. But, before the commission made its decision Monday, the about 75 people in attendance had an opportunity to share their thoughts during the public hearing.
Conflict of interest has been a controversial topic ever since DTE approached the county about the possibility of placing wind turbines on residents’ property almost a year ago.
The question became: Does the conflict of interest policy refer to out-of-township leases signed by relatives of the planning commission?
The issue had been presented to Ingersoll Township attorney Peter Poznak about three weeks ago by the board. But, as of Monday’s meeting, there has not been a response. Should the response be “yes,” that could possibly mean that members of the planning commission may not be able to vote on the ordinance.
So, instead of risking that possibility, planning commission members decided to table the ordinance and wait for a resolution.
However, before tabling, an hour-long public hearing gave people an opportunity to speak for or against the ordinance.
For those who opposed the ordinance, the theme of “too restrictive” and “2,000 feet” became a common thread.
“This ordinance restricts wind and makes a project impossible. If that is the goal of the planning commission then that is a successful result. However, if the goal is to find an ordinance that is safe and appropriate, this ordinance does not meet those requirements,” DTE spokesperson Scotty Kehoe said.
Kehoe was not alone in his remarks about what he described as a restrictive wind ordinance. Two or three other people agreed.
However, township resident Kathy Graebner had a different opinion.
“DTE’s sole interest is not in our best interests, but in their financial gain,” Graebner said. “They are not impacted by the consequences of wind turbines being properly zoned in our township. At a planning commission meeting in December, Paul Funk of DTE tried to pressure the planning commission with exclusionary zoning and the threat of litigation because the planning commission was protecting its residents with proper zoning.”
DTE Senior Communications Specialist Cindy Hecht did not immediately respond to Daily News inquiries on Tuesday related to Graebner’s statements.
“We believe that this ordinance is very restrictive. At several points throughout the language that identifies setbacks that are clearly designed to restrict wind go beyond the health and safety and welfare of a prudent operation. DTE values safety as our highest priority,” Kehoe added.
The primary concern is over setbacks between a wind energy system and an inhabited structure. For participating parcels, those that have signed a lease with DTE, the setback would be 1,400 feet. However, for non-participating parcels, that measurement would be 2,000 feet from the property line.
The Ingersoll Township Board meets again at 7 p.m. March 12. The next meeting of the planning commission will be one week later on March 14.
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