After 14 meetings over 23 months, Sherwood Township residents will have to wait until Dec. 5 for the township board to vote on a proposed wind turbine control ordinance.
The ordinance would set height limits of 330 feet for turbines, set noise levels, establish blade flicker and set minimum setbacks from property line and residences.
Township attorney Catherine Kaufman said a special board meeting Tuesday had not been noticed in accordance with Michigan’s Open Meeting Act. She will prepare the notice for the December meeting.
Supervisor James Smith and Clerk Denise Smith, both who have signed leases with DTE to use their land for wind turbines, were not present.
Kaufman said it will take all three votes of the township board to pass the ordinance or the proposal will have to start over since ordinances must be passed by a board majority.
Trustees Fred Haack and Majorie Whitcomb sat through the hearing with Treasurer Dale Marie Brubaker who acted as clerk.
After a Planning Commission hearing in October, there was only a vote of the township board scheduled. But under the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act, a citizen can send a registered letter to the township clerk and demand a second public hearing. That was done, forcing the hearing.
In her 30 years of practice, this was only the second time Kaufman saw this happen.
Even if the ordnance passes, there are more tests to come.
The attorney explained once the ordinance is approved, anyone opposed “has a right of referendum, if the proper procedure is followed, it would hold the effective date of that ordinance and it will go to a vote of the people.”
If an ordinance goes into effect, it can also be challenged in court. Zoning ordinances must make provisions for uses such uses as wind turbines.
DTE area representative Jeff Haines showed two maps. One showed 51 percent of the land in the township whose owners have signed leases with DTE.
“There is no developable land under this ordinance,” he told the board.
Josh Boland, attorney for the Concerned Citizens of Branch County who collected a petition of more than 500 names opposed to wind turbines, said the planning commission did a good job because no one was happy. He said landowers who signed leases represent only 14 percent of the population.
As for a referendum, Boland said only one of 20 have succeeded in overturning an ordinance.
With a three-minute limit, speakers went to the microphone Tuesday, both for and against the law. Many of the farmers favored adopting green energy to stop use of polluting coal. Others objected to noise, flicker, the size and locations near them.
Many said the issue has turned neighbor against neighbor and created animosity in the community.
The next step is a vote at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 5 at the township hall.
Sherwood is the first township to complete work on a wind turbine control law after DTE began signing leases in Sherwood, Matteson, Batavia, and Union townships.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding