BALTIC – The Adams Township Board unanimously approved a new zoning ordinance for the township Monday night.
Efforts to create more powerful regulations on land use in the township began last year in response to Circle Power’s proposed Scotia Wind project, which would situate 12 575-foot turbines near Whealkate Bluff. The project had met the requirements under the previously existing police powers ordinance in Adams Township.
The ordinance creates six zones within the township: agriculture, commercial, forest district, recreation, residential and rural residential.
Adams Township enacted a six-month moratorium on zoning for commercial wind and solar projects last year. Stanton Township, where Circle Power previously planned to locate eight of the turbines, enacted a nine-month moratorium the same month.
Stanton Township voters will decide on whether to establish a commission for zoning regulations through a referendum on the May ballot.
James Mihelcic, secretary of the Guardians of the Keweenaw Ridge, a citizens’ group formed in opposition to the project, said the group is happy to see the board supporting the “overwhelming number of residents” who have opposed wind projects since 2014-15. Public comment during the meeting had been uniformly in favor of the ordinance, Mihelcic said.
A previous wind farm proposed in the area had pulled out after their plan did not meet the minimum setback requirement under the police powers ordinance.
“We’re supportive of the township putting in an ordinance that not only shows local control over protection of historical and cultural resources, it also was intended to protect the health, safety and welfare of community residents,” he said.
Circle Power has criticized the ordinance, saying it lacks several required provisions, such as defining the zoning administrator or outlining an appeals process for zoning decisions.
“We are disappointed that the Adams Township Board has apparently committed to moving forward with this deeply flawed ordinance,” Circle Power Renewables Vice President Chris Moore said in a statement after the meeting. “The Board’s rushed process did not meet the requirements of Michigan statute, and did not adequately incorporate input from Adams Township residents and property owners.
“We believe that Scotia Wind has much to offer Adams Township and surrounding communities. Scotia Wind will be sited nearly a mile from the nearest home and have a minimal impact on the landscape, and residents will reap the benefits of increased property tax revenue and low-cost power for decades to come. We will continue to discuss these benefits as we work to move the project forward to construction.”
Mihelcic disagreed that the process was rushed, noting that Adams Township had originally formed the Planning Commission in 2007 and appointed members in 2008. The township had passed a master plan during that period, taken from the county’s. The zoning ordinance takes its land use map from a map showing future land use in the township.
The commission, which became active again last year, voted for the ordinance last week.
The ordinance takes effect seven days after it is published.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding