ROGERS CITY – A date has been set for some Presque Isle County residents to vote on the county’s controversial wind turbine ordinance.
The county Board of Commissioners on Friday voted to hold the election on Aug. 6, at the recommendation of the county’s attorney, Joe Kwiatkowski.
The referendum is headed to the ballot because Moltke Township residents Mike and Stefani Schulte obtained enough signatures on a petition to challenge a wind turbine ordinance the board had adopted in October.
Commissioners amended the county’s wind turbine ordinance to address zoning issues pertaining to the installation of wind turbines. The ordinance was updated to include definitions about turbines, setbacks, noise levels, and a variety of other issues.
The Schultes have voiced concern about how turbines on neighboring properties would impact a portion of their property where they graze cattle. Several other Moltke Township residents have also voiced concerns about wind turbines to county commissioners.
Sstar Ridge-Run Energy has a 100-megawatt wind energy project in the works in Moltke Township, and officials with the company are working to obtain the leases from property owners for the project to move forward. The company, however, has yet to file a permit with the county.
Kwiatkowski said the county received a letter from the attorney representing some of the parties involved in circulating the petition, expressing concern that the board intended to wait until 2020 to hold the election.
He explained there are three times a year when an issue can be placed on the ballot: May, August or November. After looking into the legal requirements, Kwiatkowski recommended the issue be put on the ballot for August.
“When you look at the law, you don’t have to wait until there’s another (ballot) issue, because, obviously, if you only had one issue you would never get it on the ballot,” he said. “But, in this instance, it will come up at the next regular scheduled election, which would be August.”
Kwiatkowski said he would notify the attorney for the group about the board’s decision. He said County Clerk Ann Marie Main is working out the ballot language, which is expected to come back to the board for approval in March.
So far, the referendum will be the only item on the ballot in August. Main said she he anticipates the election will cost the county more than $10,000, with the money coming from the county’s general fund.
Main said the county will have to pay for the production of all the ballots and the townships will have to pay for the election workers, like they always do.
Main said Presque Isle Township, Rogers City, Onaway, Kracow Township, and Allis Township will be excluded from the election because they have their own zoning.
The board’s next meeting is scheduled for March 14 in the boardroom of the Presque Isle County building, 151 E. Huron Ave., Rogers City.
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