MONITOR TWP, MI – Environmentalist Terry Miller is still on the Monitor Township Planning Commission after a motion made to remove him failed in a 3-3 vote at a township Board of Trustees meeting.
At the Monday, Aug. 27 meeting, Board of Trustees member Bill Reder made a motion to remove Miller from the commission, citing Miller’s ties to environmental groups as a reason to recuse himself on the discussion and possible adoption of a wind turbine ordinance.
“I asked Terry before the meeting would he recuse himself from attending the meetings when there’s a wind turbine discussion and then voting…he said no he wouldn’t do that,” Reder said.
At the meeting, Miller spoke to a crowd of residents who attended the meeting in which he made “no apologies” about his passion for environmentalism. He also addressed the controversy surrounding his speech at a Beaver Township meeting in which residents accuse him of speaking on behalf of Monitor Township that wind turbines were coming into town. He said he was speaking as a private citizen.
“I was speaking as an environmentalist, I was not speaking as a planning commission member from Monitor Township, I made that very clear from the beginning,” he said. “But the audience was extremely hostile and you probably hear what you want to hear sometimes.”
Reder said it doesn’t matter if Miller was speaking as a private resident because he is a planning commission member and a public official.
“No, he didn’t have to say, ‘I’m a member planning commission,’ he was a member of the planning commission,” Reder said, adding that a “reasonable” person would look at the facts surrounding the issue and say that Miller has a conflict of interest regarding wind turbines.
Miller said his position on wind turbines is well known and that he would never suggest wind turbines outside a suburb. He added he believes there is an outside group that is creating panic and fear within the township.
He added that he has been verbally assaulted by others and those who would like to speak out about wind turbines don’t because they are in danger of being booed or heckled by the opposition.
Over the last two planning commission meetings, Reder said some of the attacks and comments made against Miller were not fair.
“He’s a good individual, his heart’s in the right place,” Reder said.
Monitor Township Clerk Cindy Kowalski said the issue has really affected residents and pitted “neighbor against neighbor,” and board and committee members against one another as well.
“If you want to be involved, be involved, but come take the time educate yourself see where we are at see what we have been looking at,” she said.
She also said she knows there are people who don’t want wind turbines entirely and she understands that but she said some farmers who support wind turbines have received death threats.
“There are residents who would benefit from leasing their farms for wind energy but are afraid to speak out for reasons of being physically threatened to themselves and their properties,” Kowalski said.
Some township residents don’t think the comments have been harsh and it is more about “passionate” people who want to know what is going on.
“I don’t think it’s been that nasty, and I know Terry Miller referred to people being nasty and I think really people are just getting up and wanting to know what the heck is going on,” said Amy Shabluk, a resident of Monitor Township. “Unfortunately, it’s really sad they mentioned that farmers have gotten death threats, that’s very sad that has to be a by-product of what is going on over here.”
Shabluk and Jackie Campbell, another township resident, said they do want farmers that support it to come and speak out because currently they have not heard about what is good about them and they want to see why it would be a good idea.
Reder said where the township goes from here is getting together an advisory committee on wind turbines that will have residents who support and oppose wind turbines in addition to having planning commission members.
“Where we go from here is getting that advisory committee seated and start having meetings with the planning commission and go back to the board to put together an ordinance and get it passed,” Reder said. “Hope to have it done by December.”