Once the wind farm presently under construction in Lafayette, Hamilton and North Star townships, and another in the planning stages in New Haven and North Shade townships is built, Gratiot County will be the home of more than 400 wind turbines, nearly one-third of the state’s total.
But, Seville Township for one, hasn’t jumped on the wind energy bandwagon.
However, it has led to some heated discussions the past couple of years between those who support the installation of turbines and those who oppose it.
Now the township board has drafted a wind ordinance that it plans to vote on during its Jan. 8 meeting.
A copy has been sent to the County Board of Commissioners. But that’s more of courtesy then a requirement, according to Township Supervisor Tish Mallory.
“They can suggest changes but since we do our own zoning we don’t have to make them,” she explained.
Mallory did say Seville’s proposed wind regulations are “more strict” than other township’s that follow the county’s ordinance.
“We’re just trying to protect people who don’t want (turbines) too close them,” Mallory said. “We’ve heard from a lot of people who don’t want them like they are in Pine River Township.”
Pine River Township is located immediately east of Seville. DTE Energy built a wind park there that includes 65 turbines spanning both Pine River and Coe Township in Isabella County.
It went into operation in January.
Seville officials have also sought input from townships in other parts of the state, including the Thumb area, to get the pros and cons of wind development, Mallory noted.
“We wanted to get as much feedback as we could,” she added.
There are questions about the height of the turbines, how far apart they should be permitted, upkeep and maintenance, shadow flickers caused by the rotating blades and setbacks from roadways, among other issues
However, those who support the construction of wind turbines claim the ordinance to be voted on is too restrictive.
A petition circulated earlier this year by township resident Doug Duffy was signed by more than 150 people supporting wind development.
But Mallory said many of those who signed did it “just so they wouldn’t be bothered.”
“They didn’t want to deal with (the haggling),” she added.
Mallory also noted that the township wasn’t “creating an ordinance for the turbine companies.”
“We’re not anti turbines,” she said. “We’re creating it for our residents and to make it safe for people. We are researching both sides.”
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