UNION TOWNSHIP – After losing a vote to bring zoning to Union Township, Concerned Citizens of Branch County Coalition took another track last week to establish wind turbine regulations in the township.
Pam Reed called for Supervisor Ralph Strong and Trustee Bryan Washburn to recuse themselves from any further participation in wind turbine related issues threatening to file ethics complaints if they do.
Marilyn Johnson, a retired teacher that was recently appointed by the County Commission to the County Planning Commission, called for their resignation due to a conflict of interest.
Reed said, reading from a prepared statement, the public records show “the families of Mr. Strong and Mr. Washburn entered into their lease agreements with DTE. DTE has paid out approximately $33,000 to their families combined.”
DTE has discussed possible restrictions they would agree to put in place for construction of proposed wind turbines in the township.
In her statement Reed argued that these are not enforceable as would be zoning.
Kelly Barnes asked the board to tell the public what steps it would take to protect residents from health, noise, and related issues that some reports have said could derive from wind turbines.
“Think about some sort of restrictions to keep those things miles away from people,” she said.
Strong said he does not react to public comment, ‘but I’ll give you an answer as a courtesy. I understand it’s going to be on a countywide basis for zoning. We put it on the ballot and the voters voted it down, not to have a planning commission.”
“There must be some protection you can have against pig farms, nuclear, hazardous waste, cell towers to protect residents,” Barnes said. “People do need to be protected.”
Gary Chester said everything the coalition has presented asks “how are we going to protect the siting for the health, safety and well being of the community?”
“Protection can be by non-zoning ordinances to establish setbacks. That would calm a lot of the concerns,” Chester added.
Chester asked for “legally effective, reasonable standards, so people can be protected in their property and their homes through a township ordinance.”
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