CORUNNA – One month after a moratorium on wind turbine developments in Shiawassee County was allowed to expire, the Shiawassee County Board of Commissioners is considering enacting a new one that will last until the end of 2018.
The Board’s Economic and Physical Development Committee Monday advanced a proposal to institute a new moratorium – which blocks companies from applying for permits to build turbines – that would last until Dec. 31, or until a possible voter referendum has been resolved.
The moratorium will be considered Monday at its Committee of the Whole meeting, before potentially going to Tuesday’s full board meeting for final approval.
“We’re trying to make an ordinance that works for the whole of the county. The old ordinance, we believe, didn’t work, so we passed, what we believe, is a fair ordinance. We don’t want something to slip in between now and the time we get this resolved,” Commissioner Brandon Marks said.
“In 30 days, people will get their chance to weigh in. If there aren’t enough people, then they’re obviously happy with what we’ve done.”
Commissioners said the action became necessary after Hazelton Township resident Mike Rock filed paperwork seeking a referendum to overturn amendments to the county’s zoning ordinance regulating wind turbines, which were approved last month, shortly before the expiration of the moratorium.
While Rock seeks a referendum, officials said, the amendments passed by commissioners are on hold, and the county’s former zoning ordinance – which is considered favorable to wind turbine development – is back in effect.
In order to get the issue on the November ballot, Rock has to collect at least 2,038 signatures from people in 14 of the 16 townships in Shiawassee County – excluding Owosso and Caledonia townships – by July 24. Owosso and Caledonia townships are excluded because they handle their own planning and zoning requests.
The number of signatures is based on 15 percent of all votes cast for governor in the 2014 gubernatorial election in those townships.
Commissioners chose the Dec. 31 date as the cutoff in order to account for any possible recounts or other issues that may crop up following the general election, which is scheduled for Nov. 6.
Among the ordinance changes adopted by commissioners in June:
n The acceptable noise level produced by a turbine was set at 45 decibels, measured from a “non-participating” property line – meaning property for which the owner has not signed an agreement with a company.
n A wind turbine must be set back 350 percent of its height from the property line of a non-participating owner.
n Turbines have to be designed, placed and operated in a way that does not produce “shadow flicker” on a non-participating parcel of land.
n A wind turbine can be no taller than 450 feet.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding