CORUNNA – A Hazelton Township resident who was collecting petition signatures in an effort to overturn Shiawassee County’s new rules on wind turbines failed to submit a completed petition by Tuesday’s deadline, according to the county clerk.
To place the issue on the Nov. 6 ballot, Rock would have had to collect at least 2,038 signatures from people in 14 of the 16 townships in Shiawassee County – excluding Owosso and Caledonia townships – by Tuesday.
No petition was turned in by the end of the day Wednesday, county Clerk Caroline Wilson said this morning. The Argus-Press was unable to reach Rock for comment.
Commissioners approved an amendment to the county zoning ordinance last month that made the rules regarding wind turbines more strict. The vote followed an 18-month process of discussion, information-gathering and public hearings at which dozens of residents spoke.
Shortly after approving the zoning ordinance amendment on wind energy, a previous moratorium on wind developments expired.
Rock’s referendum drive effectively put the new wind energy rules on hold and the old rules back in effect while the referendum was underway.
Last week, the county board of commissioners voted unanimously in favor of a second moratorium on wind developments until the referendum issue was resolved.
Now that Rock has not delivered a completed petition, Commissioner Mark Coscarelli said he expects the board to discuss removing the second moratorium as soon as possible.
“The new moratorium was a stop-gap to make sure the loophole created by the referendum wasn’t used,” Coscarelli said this morning. “With the contentious nature of the issue, I am relieved (no completed petition was turned in). It was a difficult task for everyone involved. It’s a conservative ordinance, but it’s a responsible ordinance.
He added: “Was everybody pleased? Certainly not. But it seemed like a plurality supported the (amended) ordinance. Maybe that speaks to why he didn’t get the signatures.”
The required number of signatures is based on 15 percent of all votes cast for governor in the 2014 gubernatorial election in the 14 townships.
Owosso and Caledonia townships are excluded because they handle their own planning and zoning matters.
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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