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Division in Douglass Township 

Credit:  GUEST VIEW: Division in Douglass Township | By Wendie Switala | March 12, 2022 | www.thedailynews.cc ~~

The wind topic has been controversial and has created a chasm in the communities involved.

Division among families and neighbors, some of which will be irreparable. Money can bring out the true character of people. Money also brings out the sense of entitlement in people. Leadership in the townships has faltered. The oath taken by township officials is to protect the health, safety and welfare of all citizens, not just the minority of those with a vested interest.

I applaud Pine Township for their actions of including the voices of the citizens. They were the only township to conduct a survey which was reference during their discussions of the wind ordinance. In the three townships where the controversy is at the highest, they have not done a survey. Instead, they spent large amounts of revenue on attorney fees and land planners in the facade of not writing an exclusionary ordinance in which Apex Clean Energy can sue and cost township legal fees in the face of a lawsuit.

The ordinance need not be exclusionary but must be protective and safe for all citizens: Safe setback, sound limits and shadow flicker. We are advocating against invasive and irresponsible placement of industrial size turbines in our densely populated rural community. The citizens are victims of corporate greed. We do not want turbines placed so that they will have effects on the health of the citizens, negatively impact our quality of life and threaten our property value. Do we want our beautiful tranquil community invaded with towering wind turbines, high voltage towers and substations placed in some instances by eminent domain? Listening to the high voltage hum from a substation 24/7?

Leadership requires transparency to the citizens. That bears the question of why weren’t the citizens made aware of when Apex first stating infiltrating this community. The existent of the turbines affects everyone in the communities where they would be placed. Apex targeted Montcalm County. They spent a year planning, discussing and convincing landowners to sign leases with the promise of big money. Since this affects the whole community why wasn’t the whole community aware when this first starting happening.

There are many disturbing aspects of what the leadership of the three most controversial townships have done. Townships whose leaders have not demonstrated their leadership for the protection of all citizens and just for a select few should face the process of democracy. Actions speak louder than words:

• Not renewing appointments of PC members who were not like-minded to the agenda of the leadership.

• Appointments of new PC members without an application process, appointing like-minded PC members.

• Hiring of land planners and attorney without a budget limit.

Currently Douglass Township has spent more than $75,000 since April 1, 2021. The township has a revenue of $300,000. The expenditures for attorney and land planner is 25% of the total revenue for the township.

The letters published in the Daily News from the pro-winders is a desperate cry to rally their troops since the recall process has begun in three townships. Over the last 10 months, where have they been? Very few have attended countless township board and PC meetings. They don’t have to put time and energy into the fight because they have a corporation with deep pockets doing their work

The concerned citizens have attended board and PC meetings, supporting all townships involved. What happens in one township affects all townships. Our voices have not been heard. We are limited to a timed public comment. If we have questions, they are not answered. There have been no town hall meetings. No dialogue between citizens and leadership. This process has been frustrating and has led to actions. Actions which are our right to pursue. Let the citizens have a vote in what will affect their health, safety and welfare. We have gained opposition with our efforts and will continue to do so.

Apex’s Albert Jongewaard has written multi-page letters to townships that have drafted a safe and restrictive ordinance discrediting the actions of the township PC who have worked tirelessly on the ordinance, considered what is in the best interest of the citizens. Bottom line is that the ordinances are not conforming to what Apex desires to be able to invade our community. We were here first, this is our community and Apex came to us, and is now stating demands on writing wind friendly ordinances.

Townships deserve leadership that is transparent, open, honest and diverse. The old way may have been sufficient in the past but it is woefully inadequate for the present – reminiscent of watching a Western movie on my parents’ black and white TV where the sheriff and the good ole boys club ruled the town. This parallels what is currently the state of leadership.

In a letter submitted to the Daily News on Feb. 26, the author (Laura Engel) stated “capable leaders would not enter local politics” and continued with “we might have to settle for a ready supply of the more poorly qualified throwing their hats in the ring.” This also comes from someone who during public comments called us pathetic and compared us to Hitler. There has been no bullying of townships officials – we are exercising our right in democracy and letting the voters decide. The township officials and PC members have been given ample time and opportunity to do what is right for the majority of the citizens. Qualified citizens will come forward and lead this township. Now is the time for a change. The voters will finally have a voice in what will affect their quality of life.

At the Douglass Township Board meeting on March 2, Trustee Tom Jepessen displayed despicable behavior. Throughout public comment he displayed a smirk on his face and went as far as to laugh during a standing ovation after Cindy Shick’s public comment. This is behavior that should not be portrayed by a public official.

Wendie Switala of Douglass Township is a retired registered nurse originally from Southeast Michigan until moving to West Michigan five years ago.

The opinions expressed in the Guest View do not necessarily represent the opinions of the Daily News.

Source:  GUEST VIEW: Division in Douglass Township | By Wendie Switala | March 12, 2022 | www.thedailynews.cc

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial educational effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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