CORUNNA – A new moratorium on wind turbine developments aimed at filling a loophole created by a resident who is seeking a referendum to overturn Shiawassee County’s tightened rules for wind farms has taken effect.
By a 7-0 vote, the Shiawassee County Board of Commissioners Tuesday approved the moratorium, which will continue until the board takes further action.
Commissioners approved an amendment to the county zoning ordinance last month that made the rules regarding wind turbines more strict. Shortly afterward, a previous moratorium on wind turbine developments expired.
After the amendment was adopted, a county resident launched a drive to collect signatures on a petition in an effort to force a public vote to undo the stricter rules.
Commissioners have decided to put a moratorium back in place until the referendum issue is resolved.
The move was spurred by Hazelton Township resident Mike Rock filing paperwork seeking a referendum to undo the new wind turbine rules. While Rock collects petition signatures, the new rules are on hold and the county’s former zoning ordinance – which is considered favorable to wind turbine development – is in effect again.
To place the issue on the Nov. 6 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 required signatures is based on 15 percent of all votes cast for governor in the 2014 gubernatorial election in those townships.
The changes to the ordinance adopted by commissioners in June specified:
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.
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