WHEATLAND TWP. – A grassroots activist group opposing the installation of wind turbines in Wheatland Township is preparing to take their fight to court, after the Township’s Board of Trustees denied their petition for an administrative appeal and request for a hearing.
Informed Citizens of Wheatland Township received confirmation this week from their attorney, Nicholas Klaus of Klaus Law, PLLC, that Wheatland Township’s Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) has denied their appeal.
A letter from Stanley M. Sala, Esq., who is representing Wheatland Township, was made available to the Daily News. In the letter, dated Oct. 24, Sala states that the ZBA cannot hold a hearing due to a “potential conflict of interest” among two of the Board’s three members.
Chris Pollard, who founded Informed Citizens of Wheatland Township, said he was unsuccessful in convincing Wheatland Township Supervisor David Stone to temporarily appoint other ZBA members, without conflicts, to allow for a hearing.
“I understand that [Wheatland Township’s Board] doesn’t want to put people in our group [on the ZBA] and you don’t want to put in people that have a conflict of interest, but I’m sure there are some people around, especially when you look at 1,300 people in a township,” Pollard said.
Stone could not be reached for comment.
In the Sept. 19 petition, which was denied, Informed Citizens of Wheatland Township allege the Township took “improper and illegal” actions in its adoption of Wheatland Township Ordinance Section 16.25 Wind Energy Facilities.
Specifically, the petition claims that the Wheatland Township Planning Commission’s vote on Ordinance 16.25 took place after the meeting had been adjourned, in violation of Michigan’s Open Meetings Act. It also alleges a conflict of interest among several Board members, who did not recuse themselves during a later, July 12, 2018 vote to adopt the ordinance.
The adoption of that ordinance, which amended Wheatland Township’s existing wind energy ordinance, cleared the way for construction to begin on a 166-megawatt commercial wind farm in eastern Hillsdale County. An unknown number of wind turbines will be installed in Wheatland Township.
The Oct. 24 denial letter is the first time the Township has publicly acknowledged the potential existence of a conflict of interest among some of its local officials, although Pollard has been claiming such a conflict exists for months.
Now, Pollard says his group is left with no choice but to pursue legal action against the Township’s Board.
“I think the only thing that we need to do, now that we have that denial letter, is go to court and say ‘hey, we need to do this right and put the right people on the boards,’” he said. “We’re going to have to. We’ve exhausted everything that we can do.”
The group is expecting to file in circuit court within the next few days.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding