BLOOMER TOWNSHIP – Looking to another township in Montcalm County for inspiration, Bloomer Township is modifying its proposed wind and solar ordinance with a few key changes.
The Planning Commission met on Tuesday evening to discuss some changes the Bloomer Township Board requested be made to the proposed ordinance. About half a dozen people were in attendance, not including township officials.
“At the last board meeting, it (the ordinance) was discussed,” Planning Commission Chairman Doug Proctor recapped. “The board decided not to approve the current proposed zoning. They presented me with Pierson Township’s (wind) ordinance, which you all have a copy of in front of you tonight. They’d (the board) like us to look at setbacks and some of the noise.”
The Pierson Township Board voted 3-1 last November to approve a fairly restrictive wind ordinance. The Pierson Township Board voted 4-1 in February to amend the ordinance to establish a wind energy zone to allow commercial wind turbine construction east of Federal Road (old 131) in that township.
After reviewing Pierson Township’s ordinance, Proctor said there were a few things he’d like to see added to Bloomer Township’s ordinance, which the Planning Commission has been working on for over a year.
“Ice detection, we don’t have anything like that in ours. I think that’s probably a good thing. Right below it is fire suppression. We don’t have anything like that in our ordinance, either. I think that’s another good thing,” said Proctor before mentioning additional verbiage about attaching bird/bat sensors for avian protection to each turbine.
Proctor said the height restriction of 500 feet will remain the same.
When it comes to setbacks, Proctor said the township is looking to increase the minimum setback from any property line of non-participating landowners or road right-of-way to be at least four times the height of a wind energy conversion system.
“Our (current proposed) ordinance is one and a half or two times. This would be for four times the height,” he explained. “When you do that, you’re talking 2,000 feet now. That makes it tough for an 80-acre parcel unless the parcel next to them is participating.”
Regarding noise, Proctor noted that Pierson Township’s ordinance contains two pages of verbiages and restrictions on that matter.
“It’s pretty extensive,” he said. “I think there’s a lot there where I read it and I don’t understand it, but I can see that it’s very in-depth. There are people here that wrote this up (Pierson’s ordinance) that know way more about it than I do. It’s probably covered very well, from what I can read. We (previously) had just a few paragraphs on it (noise). The board likes this (Pierson’s) verbiage. I think it’s a good thing.”
Included in Pierson’s wind ordinance are regulations stating that no wind energy conversion system can generate audible noise from commercial or industrial facilities that exceed 39 dBA (A-weighted decibels) from 9 p.m. to 8 a.m. at any property line or any point within a non-participating property. Noise limits for 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. may not exceed 45 dBA.
According to Proctor, nobody from Bloomer Township, to his knowledge, has been approached by Apex Clean Energy until the night before Monday’s meeting.
“Last night, I did – and this is the first communication I had with them – I did get a phone call from Minnesota from Apex,” Proctor said. “He left a message saying he understood that we were having a Planning Commission meeting tonight, that we’re working on our ordinances and if there’s anything they can do to help us through with it.
“He told me that we (Apex) are not currently looking at our area, but he did add the word ‘yet.’ That leads me to believe – I’m sure they’ve got their hands full, now. I (wouldn’t) look for anything from them for probably a year or so, or two, or I don’t know,” Proctor added.
Proctor recommended bringing the proposed changes he discussed to the township board at Monday’s meeting. If the board approves the changes, they would then be sent to the township lawyer so that he can add them into the proposed ordinance.
“That’d take some time,” he noted. “We’ll have another public hearing (before the ordinance is approved).”
Commissioners did not discuss any changes to the solar portion of the ordinance on Tuesday.
Proctor’s recommendation was made into a motion that commissioners passed unanimously, apart from absent Commissioner Ed Hagerman.
Kathy Waldron of Bloomer Township thanked the Planning Commission for taking another look at the ordinance.
“I appreciate that you’re tightening it up, really,” she said. “I know Pierson is supposed to have one of the best ordinances (in the area) … I think they were kind of ahead of the game. I don’t hear as much going on (in Pierson) as some of the other communities that I don’t think were prepared.”
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding