PINE TOWNSHIP – The Pine Township Board heard nearly an hour of public comment at Monday’s meeting focused on the township’s need for an updated wind energy ordinance.
Audience members also repeatedly asked the township board to place a moratorium on any township wind activity, but Supervisor Bill Drews said this isn’t an option, according to the Michigan Townships Association.
“A moratorium in Michigan is not really something that can happen,” he said. “We can put a pause on accepting any applications, but a moratorium in its true sense is not part of Michigan law.”
Lindsey Simon of Pine Township, who was among audience members requesting a moratorium during public comment, interrupted Drews near the end of the meeting to demand a moratorium.
“Excuse me, you’re out of order,” Drews declared as Simon was then muted via Zoom.
“In Michigan, there is no relative due process for a moratorium,” Drews reiterated. “What we are allowed to do as a township is put a pause on permitting, which I have no issue with.”
However, the township board did not take any action on this.
Drews noted that the township’s zoning ordinance was last reviewed in 2016 and is supposed to be reviewed every five years.
“So the time is now,” he said.
Along with asking for a moratorium, multiple audience members requested that Leenawee County resident Kevon Martis be allowed to speak at a future township board meeting to counter information presented by Virginia-based Apex Clean Energy officials at previous meetings. Martis is a senior policy fellow at Virginia-based Energy & Environmental Legal Institute and is founder and executive director of the Interstate Informed Citizen Coalition, “a non-profit corporation dedicated to raising public awareness of the potential impacts from the construction of industrial wind turbines in Ohio and Michigan,” according to the E&E Legal website.
Pine Township officials did not respond to audience requests regarding Martis.
Pine Township Zoning Administrator Steve Buchholz said he fully sympathized and agreed with many of the concerns voiced by audience members Monday.
“A close look should be taken at all of those concerns,” he said. “I’d like to assure everybody that no construction can begin without a special use permit and ultimately a zoning permit. At this point in time, nobody has even applied for the special use part of it. I also agree that the present ordinance could stand some tweaking. The setbacks definitely need a closer look. It does address shadow flicker and decibels and so on – maybe they need to be tightened up. The Planning Commission is definitely taking a look at things, I think with the township board’s blessing.”
Also during Monday’s meeting, the township board tabled accepting Treasurer Rachel Pitcher’s monthly report until township officials had a chance to review some late-submitted information.
The township board also approved raising the hourly rate from $10 to $15 for the township’s deputy supervisor, deputy clerk and deputy treasurer.
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