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BLOOMER TOWNSHIP – This township’s wind ordinance has not yet been set in stone, but board members are assuring the community that they’re taking many factors into consideration before moving forward.
The township’s Planning Commission held a public hearing in August 2020 regarding proposed solar and wind ordinance amendments and then recommended the township board approve it. In January, the township board voted to table the matter until checking with the township’s attorney on a few details.
During February’s virtual meeting, board members were bombarded with comments regarding the proposed wind ordinance from residents and others who live outside the township. The matter was again tabled.
On Monday, board members and approximately 15 members of the public met in-person for their regular meeting. A virtual option was not available and township office phones could repeatedly be heard ringing throughout the meeting shortly following the call to order.
“We’re not exactly set up for a Zoom meeting around here … if you guys couldn’t tell over the past couple of months,” Supervisor Dan Ryan said.
The topic of wind first came up during the downtime in between Monday’s annual meeting and budget hearing, both of which were held prior to the regular meeting.
“At the end of the day, we tried to do something just to simply be ahead of the curve,” said Ryan the proposed wind ordinance. “All of the sudden, boom. (People think) that we’re trying to hide things. We’re not hiding (anything).”
“It’s not our fault that people didn’t have an active interest in coming to the meetings,” Trustee Tara Chapko agreed.
“Obviously, we’re going to talk about this later, I’m sure,” Ryan said. “We’ll probably be talking about it for months to come. We haven’t even been approached by anyone about it. We just see what’s going on next to us here and over there and we tried to get ahead of the game. I felt like, as a board, that’s exactly what we were trying to do.
“From my standpoint, it doesn’t matter how I feel about them,” Ryan added. “I have to think about what’s best for the community. If what’s best for the community is (turbines) or isn’t (turbines), that’s just how it is. That’s the facts of the matter.”
Kathy Waldron of Bloomer Township spoke about her hopes for the wind ordinance during public comment.
“(My husband and I) are here tonight to support and encourage our township board to put in place a strong, informed and fair ordinance concerning wind turbines and the possibility that some Bloomer Township landowners may choose to contract with energy companies to have wind turbines on their property,” Waldron said. “A far-reaching, thorough ordinance will be good for neighboring property owners, respecting each other’s property lines and protecting each of us either with a turbine on their property or not.”
Waldron mentioned setbacks from property lines, noise, flickering and other matters related to wind turbines.
“If our neighboring property owners chose to have a wind turbine, we’d like to be protected by this ordinance from issues that might occur,” she concluded.
No other public comments were offered at Monday’s meeting.
Planning Commission Chairman Doug Proctor spoke further on the topic during the meeting about how the wind ordinance could possibly come back to the Planning Commission at a later date, if that’s what the township board desires.
“I told the commission (during the Planning Commission’s March 9 meeting) that there might be the possibility that we might be re-looking at the solar and (wind) turbine ordinance. We’d be waiting for the (township) board to see what their decision may be,” Proctor explained. “We need to make it right. Everybody was pretty much in support of whatever we might need to do. We just need some specifics of what to look at – areas of discussion. If we decide to go back at it, we’ll have to work together, put together a hit-list and decide a few different things. We went along with it the first time doing what we thought we needed. Now you look at it and maybe you have different ideas.”
“The whole ordinance, it can always be amended,” Ryan agreed. “As of right now, we don’t have one in place. Let’s take in as much information as we can get. People want to voice their opinion on it. They have that right.”
Proctor said the Planning Commission’s next meeting is 7 p.m. May 11 at the township office.
“We’re willing to take another look at (the ordinance), if you want to be stricter on things,” Proctor said. “Maybe you want to make it so that nobody wants to come here. I don’t care. Whatever you want to do. We just need to come to an agreement and work with everybody the best we can.”
Ryan said there will be more conversations on wind in the future.
“As far as wind and solar ordinances, I think we’ve had our discussions tonight,” he said. “We are moving forward with discussions. They’re not building windmills tomorrow.”
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