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Sidney Township Board hears pro–wind energy comments

SIDNEY TOWNSHIP – The public comment offered at Monday evening’s Sidney Township Board meeting was overwhelmingly in favor of placing wind turbines in the township to make use of wind energy.

If some of the nearly 40 attendees participating via Zoom had been allowed to speak, the sentiment would have likely gone the other way; however, “This Zoom is for courtesy viewing only,” stated a notice on the township website Monday along with the Zoom passcode.

Treasurer Corinda Stover told the Daily News after the meeting that since the township board was now meeting in person along with audience members, the Zoom option was solely offered as a courtesy.

“We were going to stop the Zoom meetings last month, but we paid for it for the year so we figured we would just prop it up in the corner as a courtesy,” Stover said. “… not trying to do anything malicious.”

A public hearing on the Planning Commission’s proposed wind and solar energy ordinances is set for noon May 22 at the Sidney Township Park before the ordinances go before the township board for a vote (the proposed ordinances can be viewed at sidneymi.org/home.html).

Larry and Laura Engel who live in Douglass Township and own property in Sidney Township were on Monday’s agenda as guest speakers and both read lengthy statements about why they have signed a property lease with Apex Clean Energy and why they support wind energy. They spoke about the changes that progress brings, as well as the challenges of farming.

“The sun and wind are both God-given so let’s accept the gifts he’s offered,” Laura concluded.

Colleen Venema of Sidney Township said she has been researching wind energy and has visited some of the turbines in Gratiot County and spoken with people who live near them.

“I strongly support the wind turbine project in Sidney Township,” Venema said. “We stood by several turbines and could not hear them. There are no diesel motors. The gears do use oil, the same as your vehicle. Our residents need to get the true facts and go forward with the wind project.”

Joe Moleski owns property in Sidney Township and said he too has been researching wind energy and speaking with people in Gratiot County who live by turbines.

“I’m for the wind energy,” he said. “They don’t run all the time. If it’s approved right now what they’re suggesting (the township’s drafted wind ordinance), I don’t think it’s right.”

Sidney Township’s wind ordinance as currently drafted would only allow a maximum turbine height of 300 feet with the blade fully extended (Apex has proposed building 600-foot turbines); setbacks at 3,000 feet or five times the turbine top height from a non-participating property or road right-of-way; and a sound limit set at 40 dB(A) Leq 1 second or 50 dB(C) Leq 1 second at any time on a non-participating property.

Ned Welder, a 50-year Sidney Township resident and landowner (and the father of Sidney Township Trustee Jed Welder who has signed a property lease with Apex) also spoke.

“If we partner with Apex, we won’t be just looking to ourselves, but our children, grandchildren, the community, schools, what have you,” Ned said. “With Apex here, we’ve got a potential for us to see a good future. If we do things right here, I think there’s good days ahead of us for this township, this county and our grandchildren.”

“I want to thank everybody for coming tonight,” Sidney Township Supervisor Terry Peterman said as Monday’s meeting concluded. “We had a civil meeting tonight.”