The Branch County Planning Commission will ask the county for up to $20,000 to hire the Southcentral Planning Agency to assist in preparation of a new updated master plan.
Chair Debbie Lounds-Bowers will make the request at the Dec. 17 county work session for the 2020 budget. The final passage on the budget, already facing a $600,000 deficit, is set Dec.19.
The proposal said the work can be done in 18 months for $15,500. A private firm had proposed $30,000
Lounds-Bowers said the county planning commission had received a copy of the proposed Sherwood Township wind turbine zoning ordinance from its planning commission in October after it was passed. Because the county group meets only quarterly, the 30-day window for comment had passed.
The Sherwood Township board will vote on the ordinance at a special meeting tonight.
Coldwater Assessor Deb Sikorski questioned the 2,500 foot setback restriction. City Planner Dean Walrack said the ordinance “strikes me as exclusionary.” He noted under state law, zoning ordinances “have to allow a place for everything.”
DTE area representative Jeff Haines presented a map of all the township parcels under lease by the company. He said it showed under the ordinance there were no locations where a turbine could be constructed.
Anna Keim,, of Concerned Citizens of Branch County presented a map prepared by consultant McKenna and Associates which showed several areas which it said turbines could be raised. Haines said the McKenna map “does not deal with all constraints in the ordinance.”
Matteson Township resident Shelly Barkley said the 2,500 foot setbacks were actually a compromise for those who wanted a mile set back from other property lines and homes.
Planning Commissioner Marilyn Johnson was one of those who asked for a county wind turbine control ordinance. A Union township resident, she warned “Union Township is going to have all of the turbines and we can’t do anything about it.” Union Township voters rejected authorizing zoning in a November 2018 vote.
The county planning commission decided a year ago it could not begin work on any ordinances without a master plan.
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