While multiple townships within Montcalm County are working on creating wind and solar energy ordinances, Crystal Township is taking a different route.
The township has been told that Apex Clean Energy currently is not looking at Crystal for its proposed Montcalm Wind project; however, the majority of township officials also aren’t necessarily in a hurry to create any major restrictions against wind turbines at this time.
The topic of renewable energy came up in Crystal last month when Trustee Diane Rydahl questioned whether the township should look into making a renewable energy ordinance given all the wind talk happening around the county. Agreeing to do some more research on the matter at that time, the topic again came up for discussion during Wednesday’s meeting.
“We know that we’re not in the targeted area, right now, for Apex,” Rydahl said. “We still thought it would be a good idea to have some discussion on how the board sits, for or against that. I think we need to have some discussion on that and decide how to develop our ordinance.”
“I think I’ve been outspoken in saying I’m not in favor of it,” she added.
Rydahl and Trustee Roger Martin said they both attended Apex’s virtual community meeting on May 25. During that meeting, Apex Senior Development Manager Albert Jongewaard said Apex is currently looking at placing 75 turbines in nine townships within Montcalm County – an average of eight turbines per township in Belvidere, Cato, Douglass, Maple Valley, Montcalm, Pierson, Pine, Sidney and Winfield townships.
“Basically, they’re looking at Stanton to the west,” Martin explained.
With Martin noting that Apex adds required setbacks around turbines for a number of amenities, including lakes, the question then became whether Crystal needs to adopt a renewable energy ordinance.
“I struggle with the fact that a five-person board is telling a landowner what they can do with their property,” Clerk Patty Baker-Marek noted.
Good point, Pat,” Treasurer Nancy Mills said.
“I second that,” Supervisor Curt McCracken agreed. “I think an ordinance is alright, but, reading the Daily News, the way these other townships are trying to make it impossible (for turbines), I think that’s a bunch of BS.”
“So we need to develop it (an ordinance) to meet what our community needs are,” Rydahl suggested.
“You know, like you aren’t going to see nothing (wind turbines) around the lake or anything,” McCracken responded.
“Do we want to develop anything?” Rydahl asked. “Or we’re just going to go with that we’re lucky that they (Apex) doesn’t like us?”
“I’d say, for right now, maybe we just hold off,” McCracken answered. “If they start acting interested…”
“Then we hurry up,” Rydahl finished. “I’m glad they don’t like us. But do we need to protect us? Do we need to protect the lake?”
“I guess if you want to keep looking into some (renewable energy) ordinances,” McCracken said to Rydahl, which Rydahl agreed to do.
Crystal Township Fire Chief Mike Fitzpatrick said the township may want to look into addressing solar energy in an upcoming ordinance if that’s the route board members intend to head.
“I know a dairy farmer recently up by Stanton just sold his whole farm,” Fitzpatrick said. “260 acres are now going to become solar panels. There’s one just outside St. Johns, Michigan – a 40-acre field that’s all solar panels. If you guys are looking to make an ordinance, don’t forget to include the rest of renewable energy.”
“They’re already trying that in this township, but they can’t get no ground, yet,” McCracken responded.
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