BAD AXE – The Huron County Planning Commission finally heard updates about the revisions to the county’s Master Plan at this week’s meeting.
Alan Bean, a project planner for Spicer Group, spoke at Wednesday’s meeting about the changes – mostly dealing with renewable energy – and the planners discussed what they wanted to be included.
In a section dealing with wind turbines, the planners wanted information included about how residents voted down two separate proposals for wind overlay districts in 2017.
Planner Bob Tenbusch requested one paragraph dealing with repowering decommissioned wind turbines changed to reflect the opinion that Detroit-based Clark Hill PLC gave.
Clark Hill attorneys gave the opinion that changes to the county’s 2015 wind ordinance would be needed since it does not permit full repowering.
Planning Chairman Robert McLean said if a depowered turbine were to be repowered as is, they would not have a problem with it. But, if a turbine built under the 2010 wind ordinance were to be replaced by a new one, it would have to follow the 2015 wind ordinance.
Huron County Board of Commissioners Chairman Sami Khoury, who was sitting in on the meeting, wanted the Clark Hill opinion to be referenced in the master plan.
Planner Ken Walker wanted it added that no new wind turbines are to be built until noise safety tests for infrasound and low-frequency sound are conducted and such standards to reference could be included.
Walker said that such sounds affect between 8-10% of the county’s residents, and they do not bother him, but the planners are looking out for the safety of the community.
Khoury said he does not believe such a request would be enforceable, as the county already has an ordinance in place where it can accept or deny such projects.
On the topic of solar, the master plan now says the county lacks a solar energy ordinance, and that such future developments would be a potential challenge to the county’s agricultural economy.
Among the other changes to the master plan include explaining why the former Port Hope School District is still listed on a map, for tax and bond reasons, despite it being absorbed into the North Huron School District.
Planner Bill Renn recommended adding that land enrolled in the state’s farmland preservation program was eligible for solar developments.
Other maps also better list recreation opportunities like marinas, boat launches and city and village parks.
McLean was pleased with the progress made, noting that the biggest delay to getting this finished was waiting for the aforementioned Clark Hill opinion.
Bean said he would appear at the planner’s Dec. 4 meeting to discuss further revisions.
The earliest a public hearing could be scheduled regarding the master plan is in March 2020.