A public hearing concerning wind turbines brought a standing-room-only crowd to the Mount Haley Township Hall.
Mount Haley Planning Commission Chair Dave Wassmann enforced a two-minute time limit on each speaker and planning commission members didn’t turn the meeting into a question and answer session by responding to speakers.
“This is an open forum for you to voice your concerns, your thoughts and your questions,” Wassmann said.
Last November, the Mount Haley board asked the planning commission to review the township’s wind ordinance. The process has the planning commission formulating a draft and presenting it to the township board for review. The board either adopts the ordinance or returns it to the planning commission for further changes.
“When we first started, we hired Spicer Engineering to create a generic draft of what a wind ordinance should look like. From that, we have gone through it item by item looking at specifics and what we believe is the best for the township. A lot of that came from looking at (many) other ordinances,” said Norm Jardis, Mount Haley trustee and liaison to the planning commission.
In an effort to educate themselves, commissioners have also been visiting wind facilities, attending seminars, and speaking with industry professionals regarding the issue that divides townships.
The two-hour hearing saw more than 40 comments presented, mostly by residents of Mount Haley.
A good portion of the comments brought a lot of stated opinions, but very little documentation.
One major concern was the loss of property values. A Mount Haley resident quoted a Forbes Magazine article that stated turbines decrease property values by 25-40 percent.
But Peter Sinclair of Midland, who is not a township resident, cited a study done by Sarah Mills, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Michigan Gerald R. Ford School’s Center for Local, State and Urban Policy (CLOSUP), that concluded that wind turbines do not have an impact on property values.
Other comments present during the hearing included:
• Breckenridge Schools are hiring additional staff for their schools due to taxes on wind turbines because of wind leases in Gratiot County.
• How will wind turbines be sustained if subsidies are removed?
• Un-subsidized wind energy is getting cheaper all the time.
• Who will clean up when turbines are no longer useful to the utility companies?
• We don’t want them in our backyards.
• Leases would help support farmers, who now need an extra job to support themselves.
• One resident who looks at the Gratiot County wind turbines on a daily basis, didn’t feel that they destroyed the quality of his life.
• What about setbacks?
At one point, speakers complained about not being informed and that the wind turbine issue seemed like it “snuck in under the door.”
However, Mount Haley Township Supervisor Rich Keenan responded to the critics.
“Almost exclusively, every single question asked has been discussed at one time or another, by the planning commission or township board. So, it’s active. It’s been ongoing. Our meetings are open. They’re doing a fantastic job. If you have questions, please show up at our township meetings,” Keenan exhorted.
Ron Garrett, chairman of the Ingersoll Township Planning Commission, has just gone through the wind ordinance process.
“Residents are looking for education and information. I think (the Mount Haley Planning Commission) has acquired a lot of information and have become educated,” he stated.
The Mount Haley Planning Commission meets again at 6:30 p.m. July 11 at the Township Hall, 3020 S. Homer Road.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding