ROGERS CITY – Voters in some parts of Presque Isle County voted narrowly on Tuesday to support a controversial wind turbine ordinance, while voters in Metz said yes to a five-year renewal of a tax for road repairs.
According to unofficial results Tuesday, 322 voters in 11 of the county’s townships voted to keep the wind turbine rules written by the county Board of Commissioners, while 303 voters in those townships voted against the ordinance. That’s a difference of only 19 votes out of 625 cast. County Clerk Ann Marie Main said any registered voter in the county could request a recount.
Additionally, 21 voters supported Metz Township’s road tax renewal and nine voters voted against.
Voters in Bismark, Case, Metz, North Allis, Ocqueoc, Posen and Pulawski townships supported the county’s ordinance, while voters in Bearinger, Belknap, Moltke and Rogers townships voted against the ordinance.
The wind turbine ordinance was passed by the county board last year and specified setbacks for wind turbines and solar energy installations. The ordinance also was updated to include definitions about turbines, setbacks, noise levels and a variety of other issues.
On Tuesday, voters signed off those rules.
“It’s my understanding that, if it is approved by the voters, then the ordinance by the county commissioners takes effect,” county Building and Zoning Official Mike Libby said.
The referendum headed to the ballot after former Moltke Township residents Mike and Stefani Schulte obtained enough petition signatures to force the ordinance to a public vote. The Schultes had voiced concern about how turbines on neighboring properties would impact a portion of their property where they grazed cattle.
The Schultes have since moved downstate.
Stefani Schulte refused to comment on this story when contacted via email.
Meanwhile, in Metz Township, a 1-mill property tax renewal was approved by the voters.
The tax will raise about $12,000 annually for road improvements and repairs. The property tax will cost the owner of a $100,000 house about $50 a year and will be levied for five years.
Metz Township Clerk Nancy Kandow said there was a “very small turnout” for the election, but that the township’s voters seem to always support the millage for road improvements and repairs.
“Roads are important and our voters realize that,” Kandow said.
Kandow said the road repairs are made possible with the help of the county Road Commission. The township contributes 30% of the funding and the county contributes 70% of the funding for projects, she said.