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Wind turbines zoning to come after election

UNION TOWNSHIP – Trustees of Union Township will wait until after the Nov. 6 election before taking any action to implement zoning in the township.

The group opposed to wind turbines, planned by DTE, for parts of Union, Sherwood, Matteson, and Batavia Townships have been pushing for strict regulations.

Tuesday night, pressed by Concerned Citizens of Branch County to act now, each member of the board said they would wait to create zoning regulations for the township, the only of one the four which does not regulate land use.

The citizens group had prepared a citizen initiative, which was presented to the township board earlier this year and placed it on the ballot.

On the ballot for just the township residents is the “yes” or “no” question, “Shall the Township Board for Union Township, Branch County, Michigan, adopt an ordinance to create a planning commission pursuant to the Michigan Planning Enabling Act, Public Act 33 of 2008?”

Trustee Clint Burdick said, “Let’s see how the vote turns out. The majority of the people don’t want zoning.”

Trustee Bryan Washburn said, “People own the land and have a right to use it.”

He noted the trustees were not voting on the issue at the meeting.

“I’m not saying I’m for it or against it,” Washburn said.

He said he cannot put a turbine on his land but admitted he is receiving compensation as an adjoiner.

Attorney Joshua Nolan, hired by Concerned Citizens, said because of the financial interest there is a conflict.

Washburn said, “My dad’s got his land signed up. I’m not going to tell him what to do. He’s worked all his life, for it, his right, the American right – freedom. I don’t want to be told what to do or not to do.”

Washburn said, “I’m hear to listen. I have not heard all the facts yet. I am not here to be a jerk.”

Nolan said there are already “tons of regulations of how to use the land” not casinos, airports, and the like are regulated.

Secretary Sharon Boley said, “Whatever the people want is what we are going to do.”

She said she has not made her mind up about wind turbines. Boley said the board could put a moratorium on turbines if the ballot proposal passes.

Supervisor Ralph Strong was around in 1999 when zoning for the township failed. Pushed for how he would vote on a moratorium if zoning passes, Strong declined to say.

“It’s in your hands. Why pass something if you don’t want it,” he said.

Nolan said without a planning commission the township can’t pass a moratorium on allowing turbines.

Strong said, “Zoning is fine as long as its workable.”

Boley said she is planning for a voter turnout that will equal a presidential election year with all the issues and the candidates on the ballot.