Public comment was unusual during Wednesday’s Belvidere Township Board meeting in that it only took place after the meeting had adjourned.
Two dozen people were present via Zoom, but when the township board offered public comment, no one spoke. The township board’s audio was muffled and difficult to hear, and township board members did not appear to be monitoring Zoom to see any raised hands.
After the 18-minute meeting had adjourned, people unmuted themselves on Zoom to ask to speak. Township board members stayed to listen to comments and to interact with audience members.
Vikki Douglas of Maple Valley Township asked why the next township board meeting, which is set for 9 a.m. on April 14, is scheduled while most people are at work.
“For the last four years we kept track of the early meetings and the late meetings and there didn’t appear to be any difference in attendance,” Supervisor John Anderson noted.
“There probably hasn’t been much attendance to very many meetings, but there are very serious things going on in our county that people are concerned about,” Douglas said. “Five o’clock, people are driving home from work, 9 o’clock, they’re at work. And this Apex wind energy company is trying to sneak into our county here. You have a lot of citizens who are very concerned. I just wondered if you could make your meetings more available to the community so they can attend. I think the best thing about this wind energy company coming is that people are getting more involved with their local government, and that’s a great thing.”
Ken Purchase of Belvidere Township also spoke in person at the meeting on behalf of Montcalm County Citizens United, a Facebook group with 2,600 members and counting. He asked the township board to consider updating its wind ordinance – which hasn’t been revised since 2016 – regarding turbine setbacks from property lines, turbine heights, shadow flicker and noise levels.
Clerk Sheila Smith said the Belvidere Township Planning Commission will next meet at 6 p.m. on April 13.
“That’s probably where we should start with this,” she said.
“I’ve been talking with other townships and seeing what’s going on,” she added. “We don’t want that here in Belvidere.”
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