EVERGREEN TOWNSHIP – The Evergreen Township Board is declining to take action on creating a wind ordinance after the supervisor said Apex Clean Energy isn’t considering the township for a planned wind turbine farm.
The township board held its first-ever Zoom meeting Tuesday evening, but most meeting attendees showed up at the township hall to participate in person.
“I’m assuming that’s what most people are here for, the wind turbines,” observed Supervisor Andy Ross as public comment got underway at the start of the meeting.
Township officials did not ask audience members to identify themselves by name and township during public comment. Most attendees were present to ask wind-related questions, such as whether the non-zoned township currently has its own wind ordinance. It doesn’t.
“We can set our own ordinance,” Ross noted. “We have a noise ordinance that we enforce. It’s just our ordinance. We should be able to enforce it. We’ve enforced it in the past and have had no problems.”
“I would suggest we approach whatever we do with great caution,” a man in the audience noted. “We’ve all read the Daily News and know what the other townships are going through. A lot of what they’re going through and a lot of the problems they’re having are caused by lack of information. Whatever we decide to do, we should do it slowly and transparently.”
“I talked to the wind turbine company, Apex, and they told me they are not looking at Evergreen, Bloomer or Bushnell at this time,” Ross said. “They want to be in 11 townships in the county and we’re not in one of the 11. There’s probably going to be some lawsuits, depending on which way it goes. I’ve been advised by an attorney not to make any decisions. I would hope we could have a county ordinance that would be good for everybody so it’s the same all the way across, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. At this time, we don’t have to make any decisions. Time is on our side because they’re not looking at us.”
Apex previously stated it was looking at 11 townships but now are considering 10 for the project.
A woman in the audience questioned what would happen if some of the other townships backed out and Apex turned its attention to Evergreen Township.
“Do you really have a lot of time?” the woman asked. “Being proactive is, I think, a good thing. Eventually, they’re gonna come after us.”
“It’s possible,” Ross admitted. “My understanding is our landscape is a lot different than these other townships. We don’t have a lot of big fields like some of these other townships do. Is it possible? Yes, but it’s not highly likely. I know a lot of farmers in the area, a lot of landowners. They’re not looking at us.
“These other townships, they’ve been working on it (wind ordinances) for a couple of years,” a man in the audience noted.
Clerk Kelli Greenhoe then made a motion to table the topic for six months while township board members research the issue on their own, with the understanding that the board can revisit the topic whenever needed. The motion passed 5-0 with Greenhoe, Ross, Treasurer Laura Edwards, and trustees Teresa Baker and Mark Heintzelman all voting “yes.”
“I think this is a good start,” said a woman in the audience.
“This is my first board meeting,” the woman added. “I’ve never been to a township board meeting in 50 years.”
“There’s usually barely two people at these meetings,” Ross noted.
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