MAPLE GROVE TWP. – Approximately 200 people attended the Monday, March 19 meeting of the Maple Grove Township Board to discuss the issue of wind turbines.
Opening the floor to public comment, Township Supervisor Kevin Krupp said, “There’s been a lot of rumors. We want to be as transparent as possible. There’s a belief that this is a windmill meeting. This is our normal monthly meeting. We, as your township, are already working on a windmill ordinance. Over the past four or five months, we’ve (heard from) only people against turbines.”
Krupp went on to say that the board has already heard concerns about shadow flicker, noise, blade-throw, property values. He welcomes new information.
Many people spoke during the meeting; here is an overview representing the overall concerns.
Chuck Weisenberger, who owns property in both Chesaning and Hazelton townships, said, “Yes, I did sign a contract (with Shiawassee Wind).” He talked about wind turbines boosting the community’s tax base.
Jane Krupp said, “We did sign up and our Chesaning and Maple Grove property. I too did a lot of searching (for information) before signing. I did a lot of research. In the Thumb, there’s a lot more wind turbines. Saturday evening, I went for a ride in Gratiot County. We rolled down the windows and drove down a dirt road.” J. Krupp explained that she didn’t hear anything from the front side of the turbines. From the back, she heard a whoosh sound.
She stopped at a house to talk with someone. The individual told her that if there is shadow flicker, it’s with the old wind turbines. The new ones can be shut down to avoid flicker, she said.
J. Krupp also spoke with a Gratiot County farmer who told her he got a total bashing from neighbors before the turbines were installed, but now, no complaints. He told her that one guy was so mad about the wind turbines that he moved, and was able to sell his property.
J. Krupp concluded, “If you like them, you do. If you don’t, you don’t. Tim and I have been trashed. We’re not trashing anybody.”
Joe Donovan said, “I’ve signed a contract. I have a friend in Ubly, Huron County. I stood under his windmills. (I’m not turning back).”
Ryan Dykstra of Shiawassee Wind said, “We are not all seeing this issue the same way. We need to treat each other with respect. This is very early for us. It’s not every part of Maple Grove that’s being considered. It’s only successful when there are pockets of (wind farms).”
Wesley Peterman said, “I want to raise my family here in Maple Grove. I want to build a house.” Peterman explained that he started a Facebook page to provide information about wind turbines. He posted the names of those who already have contracts with Shiawassee Wind, which are posted on Saginaw County’s website.
“It’s a public record. I’ve been nothing but polite. Why are you mad at me? I’m asking for a one-year moratorium. Consider the health, welfare and wellbeing of Maple Grove,” he said.
Scott Vincke said he worked in Caro for several years, “where there are a bunch of wind turbines.” “They do make noise,” he said.
Jackie Henige said, “I’ve heard rumors of a test windmill being built on Briggs.”
K. Krupp said, “It would have to go through the planning commission first.”
Sally Quaderer talked about seeing windmills while traveling in California, Nevada, Idaho and South Dakota. “I’ve never seen so many windmills. But I never saw one house.”
Marilyn Henige said, “We are a community of school friends. I believe this issue of wind turbines would tear apart the community. Why this area? It’ll lead to the destruction of friendships. How about the residents who want to sell their house? Who would want to buy a house (near windmills)?” She expressed concern over potential health problems. Henige also wondered about the unintentional consequences in 10 years. “Who will be your friend and neighbor then?” she asked. Pat Fry said, “The board needs to consider all the wind turbines in other states that don’t work.”
Hazelton Township resident Mary Eickholt said, “Your township is densely populated (2,600). Our population is 1,300.”
Joe Erhardt said, “From what I’ve heard, these wind turbines don’t even pay for themselves. It’s almost like it’s a welfare program. It doesn’t make sense to me. I own seven acres. If it doesn’t pay for itself, it just sucks up tax dollars.”
Gene Newman said, “The government is funding this so they can make money. The government should not be subsidizing. I think we should get tax money back.”
Megan Ruggero said, “We just signed on a house yesterday and now this. Your job is to try to make this community whole again.”
Randy Henige said, “I’ve been out in Gratiot and Huron counties. It’s not as densely populated. This is much more densely populated.”
Gary Birkmeier told the Maple Grove Township Board, “I understand due diligence. How are you getting information? Are you checking with other township boards?”
Supervisor K. Krupp responded, “All of us have seen wind ordinances pro and con. We visited several.” He explained that he contacted an attorney that has experience representing both sides. The township basically has three options: “We can stay silent and do nothing. We can create an ordinance. We can (manage them through) special use permit and proceed as a township.”
“We’re still gathering information. Then we’ll hand it over to the planning commission, which meets every two months. The planning commission would then present an opinion to the board. Yes, we’re going to make a decision,” K. Krupp said.
Birkmeier asked, “Have you thought about sending out a survey?”
K. Krupp said, “We have (heard from) as many as 17 people from the community with one view in recent months. One thing that hasn’t happened is, no one has challenged facts. We are about 200 people here tonight. I’m glad people are coming out. We’re so glad you’re here.”
Frank Bishop said, “Our family has lived in the area over 150 years. Is it possible to bring this up for a vote of the people?”
K. Krupp responded, “I don’t see it going up for a vote.” He compared the windmill issue to the Dow Event Center in Saginaw. (Presumably in that every voter in the outlying areas could vote against the millage for the Dow Event Center, but there would be enough votes of support in Saginaw to approve the millage. It’s one-sided.)
K. Krupp said, “I work in Shiawassee County. We reached out to a lot of counties in the state. Heard both pro and con.”
Sally Quaderer asked, “Will there be open meetings?”
K. Krupp responded, “Yes.”
The public comment portion of the meeting, which was focused on wind, closed after nearly 90 minutes. Maple Grove Township officials will continue to research and work on developing an ordinance for the township. The Maple Grove Township annual meeting is scheduled for March 26 at 7 p.m. It is open to the public and will be held at the Maple Grove Township Hall.
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