Officials in a Muskegon County community have narrowly approved the construction of a controversial wind farm.
The Casnovia Township board OK’d a special land use permit for the Kenowa Ridge Wind Energy Project in a 3-2 vote at a special meeting Tuesday.
But the approval came with conditions focusing on longstanding concerns involving noise, light flickering and safety. Those have not yet been formally presented to American Electric Power, the company managing the project.
Clerk Jennie Powell, Treasurer Gayle Brock and Trustee Dan Winell voted yes on the permit. Trustee Jason Jorgensen and Township Supervisor Kelli Ashbaugh voted no.
One man who has been to every meeting about the project believes the vote failed him and his fellow residents.
“I’ll put my research up against anybody. I have not been intellectually lazy on this at all,” Paul Black told 24 Hour News 8. “How are they going to explain to the residents of the township that they had the best interests of the township in mind when they voted as they did, 3-2?”
Black designed his home on North Canada Road around renewable energy sources. He supports clean energy efforts, but sees more cons than pros for wind farm project.
“I think wind energy, as it’s designed right now, is old technology. There’s much better ways to generate electricity from wind than 500-foot structures turning around, killing birds, disrupting people’s lives,” Black explained.
The township office was closed when 24 Hour News 8 went to speak to officials about the vote. Ashbaugh told 24 Hour News 8 over the phone her vote resulted from concerns that the turbines infringe on nonparticipating residents. Only 28% of the township’s more than 2,800 residents have signed leases for the project, according to March meeting minutes on the township’s website.
The wind farm, proposed last year and expected to be up and running by the end of 2020, will consist of as many as 31 turbines within the township’s 36 square miles. It’s not yet clear where the energy will be sold.
The township has eight days to send the conditions to AEP. The company can then accept the conditions to move forward with the permit or take the township to court.
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