The 14-month journey toward an Ingersoll Township Wind Ordinance has produced a myriad of turbulent storms for both the township board and planning commission.
“It’s really hard to make both camps happy, that’s the discouraging part about it. Probably the most difficult part, as a supervisor, is to see the township become divided,” Ingersoll Township Supervisor Chuck Tabb said.
At Monday’s meeting, with two Midland County deputies in attendance, the board voted 3-2 to adopt the Ingersoll Township Wind Energy Zoning Ordinance. Tabb, Mary Ellen Keel and Curt Shaffner voted in the affirmative. Jacob Terwillegar and Jim Terwillegar vote against the 26-page ordinance, which DTE says will prevent it from erecting wind turbines in the township.
“The ordinance that the planning commission proposed is a very good balance between property owners and non-property owners in terms of wind turbines,” Tabb said.
Even before discussion of the ordinance, the battle lines were drawn as Jacob Terwillegar moved to change the agenda. The original agenda called for discussion of the ordinance as item No. 4, followed by public comments at No. 5.
“I move that we flip-flop Nos. 4 and 5 to give people the chance to talk to the board about (the wind ordinance) if they have not talked to the board,” Jacob Terwillegar said.
Jim Terwillegar seconded the motion but added that he would like to see item No. 6, or correspondence, read before the discussion.
Jacob and Jim Terwillegar voted, “yes,” while Tabb, Keel and Shaffner all voted, “no.”
Jim Terwillegar opened the discussion by stating that the ordinance was exclusionary and the board should not be voting on it.
“To me, you are going to break the law there,” he said.
After the meeting, Jim Terwillegar pointed out the Ingersoll Township Vision statement talks about protecting “individual freedoms.”
“I don’t believe that individual freedoms come from a few people telling the rest of us how to use our land,” he said.
Conflict of interest also became a major issue last fall. Family members of members of the planning commission and board had signed leases, but in another county. Ingersoll Planning Commission members asked if it was a conflict. Ingersoll Township Attorney Peter Poznak responded that he did not believe it was a conflict of interest.
Multiple times the question was raised if Rob Eggers was creating a conflict of interest. Eggers, who lives in Ingersoll Township, was consultant to the township board and planning commission on the wind ordinance.
“As far as I feel, three of us were personally attacked for a conflict of interest and the board was used to go after the three of us,” Jim Terwillegar said.
The process began in early 2017 when DTE approached Ingersoll Township residents about the possibility of leasing property for wind turbines.
In response to an email from the Daily News, Cindy Hecht, DTE senior communications specialist stated, “The zoning ordinance adopted by Ingersoll Township will prevent development of wind parks in that community. We are disappointed for the Ingersoll Township landowners, businesses and community that stood to benefit in many ways, including increased tax revenue and job creation.”
But, regarding the possibility of a lawsuit against Ingersoll Township, DTE officials twice failed to respond to Daily News inquiries.
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