L’ANSE – The Township Board voted 4-1 Wednesday not to enact an amendment to zoning ordinances recommended by its Planning and Zoning Board designed to block construction of a proposed wind farm.
The amendment would have increased the distance required between a large wind energy conversion system (WECS) and the property line of land not in the same wind farm system to half a mile. It would have permitted large WECS in areas zoned General Industrial in addition to Conservation and Recreation as stated in Section 3.15, and clarified what section of restrictions different-sized WECS towers would be governed by.
It also would have the subsection of the zoning ordinance that allowed Large WECS installations in Forest Resource districts, ending a conflict between two sections. Section 11.03 currently states it would allow the installation on the Forest Resource district land, but Section 3.15 prohibits it.
The vote came after an unplanned closed-session of the board, during which it contacted counsel, and a heated open discussion and public comment session about the proposed wind farm on Mount Arvon.
L’Anse Township resident Robert Kissel presented a letter to board, reading it aloud to the group.
“I believe a referendum is needed,” he said. “The people must be heard to ensure the board does not take any inappropriate action to decide this issue.”
Jeffrey Loman stood to voice his support of pursuing a payment in lieu of taxes agreement before authorization of any wind farm, to insure local governments do not lose tax revenue in the future if the state passes tax breaks for wind farms.
Township Supervisor Peter Magaraggia also supported a referendum and stated his reluctance to hold a vote on the ordinance changes.
“We don’t have to act on it,” he said, before a motion to reject the ordinance was called by Shelley Lloyd and seconded by Treasurer Kristine Rice.