WINFIELD TOWNSHIP – Multiple residents continue to ask for a moratorium on wind energy permits in Winfield Township while township officials continue to work on a wind energy ordinance.
The topic came up again during public comment at the July 8 meeting of the Winfield Township Board when several people asked whether township officials plan to enact a moratorium on wind projects, as they previously did on solar projects.
Planning Commissioner Julia Potratz previously made a motion to place a six-month moratorium on wind projects during June’s Planning Commission meeting “to protect the township until we get an ordinance in place.” However, that vote failed 4-5.
Potratz brought up the topic again at the July 8 township board meeting.
“I just wanted to find out if we’ve made any progress on that,” Potratz asked. “If we’re going to do that for solar, I think it’s reasonable that we do that for wind.”
“There should be no reason for a six-month moratorium to not be placed on it,” Jessica Kwekel of Cato Township added. “There’s a six-month moratorium placed on the solar. If you guys are trying to do your due diligence, that would be the responsible thing to do.”
Later in the meeting, Trustee John Black – who is also a member of the Planning Commission and who voted in favor of the failed vote for a wind moratorium – asked Supervisor Phyllis Larson whether she had heard back from the township attorney about this.
“He’s working on that, the moratorium for the wind,” Larson said. “They’re very busy right now so they’re having a tough time keeping up.”
Larson – who has signed a property lease with Apex Clean Energy – said the township attorney has given her a draft regarding township officials and conflict of interest. This was another topic brought up repeatedly at the meeting by many, including Tom Kok who lives on Winfield Lake in Winfield Township.
“It’s mainly aesthetics, it’s property values – we don’t want this in the community,” Kok said of wind turbines. “This isn’t why we moved into this community, to look at some industrial fan up in there. You’ve got to listen to where your tax base is coming from and these lakes bring a lot of value into your township. If you’ve accepted money and there’s a conflict of interest, just step down.”
“Amen,” multiple audience members responded.
The Winfield Township Planning Commission will hold a public hearing at 1 p.m. on Saturday at Crossroads Worship Center at M-46 and Federal Road (old 131) just north of Howard City regarding the Planning Commission’s proposed solar ordinance (which can be read at winfieldtownship.org).
The township board voted on July 8 to also make that public hearing a special board meeting so a quorum of township board members can attend without violating the Open Meetings Act.
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