March 18, 2022

‘Restrictive, unreasonable and ridiculous’

MSU Extension’s director emeritus criticizes Pine Township’s proposed wind amendment | By Elisabeth Waldon | Daily News | March 17, 2022 |

PINE TOWNSHIP – Michigan State University Extension’s director emeritus has weighed in on Pine Township’s pending wind ordinance amendment, calling it “restrictive, unreasonable and ridiculous.”

Don Smucker, a Stanton resident, is a land use educator who helped create Montcalm County’s General Plan. He is chairman of the Stanton Planning Commission, a longtime Michigan State University Extension director and the current director emeritus.

Smucker wrote a letter to the Pine Township Board and Planning Commission, which Supervisor Bill Drews referenced twice during Monday’s meeting, saying he received from “a person who’s well respected by me” and told his fellow township board members he would make them a copy of the letter.

Near the end of the meeting, township resident Curt Simon asked why everyone couldn’t receive a copy of the letter.

“You want me to bore you with the reading of it here and now?” Drews asked.

“Yeah, sure,” Simon responded.

“We’re at the end of the meeting so if I guess if I throw you out for making any rude comments, I guess that’s fine,” Drews responded.

Drews then proceeded to read aloud the letter.

“Your ordinance should be entitled an ordinance to restrict, discourage and ultimately exclude any wind turbines from being sited in your township, as that is in fact what in reality it is … you copied almost word for word the most restrictive ordinance that you could get your hands on,” the letter stated. “This ordinance seeks to be as unreasonable as possible regarding tower height, setbacks and noise levels. The perimeters regarding these items is in use by most installations, has been well established and has been demonstrated to be workable and are backed by positive experience and verified scientifically conducted investigation. You chose to totally ignore these facts and spent your commission time listening to and discussing dubious facts that our anti-wind folks promoted via their tactics of chaos and agitation to stir up fear and hate and to justify what you now put on paper with your township’s name on it.

“You further insert totally unreasonable perimeters calling for ridiculous depths required for burying cables and decommissioning requirements as erroneous and expensive as possible, the result of which would so severely impair the soil to make it virtually useless for future uses,” the letter continued. “The entire process has been characterized by disrespectful shouting, threats and other tactics that would make the paper and get attention that it does not merit at all. It has been my experience that this conduct is not used by those who seek to be understanding and considerate of others’ opinions, whether we agree with them or not. Through all of the chaos and rancor that has ensued, you have succeeded in weakening your local government body, which has worked over the years to support and enhance the quality of life that most of us now enjoy – but because of what has gone into the current process, your local government may now be headed in a direction that I fear may hurt everyone.

“This ordinance should not be passed,” the letter stated. “There are places in your township where wind turbines can be sited given reasonable perimeters. Most of your citizens would benefit from installing the few that are being considered in your township. You need to go back and start over with something reasonable like the previous ordinance. Better yet, work with a professional planner. They will give you better advice than you are now getting through your lawyer and the price will be more reasonable. But don’t do that if you can’t go through a planning process where a Planning Commission is willing to perform the duties and responsibilities of planning commissioners. Commission members should not be an advocate for one point of view and must be willing to engage in good faith negations that will deal with facts, respect others’ opinions and see that the interests of all interested parties, including residents, landowners and yes, even the energy company, are given serious consideration. This is a very difficult task but worth all the effort that it takes to make it happen.”

Drews concluded reading the letter, at first not saying the name of who wrote it. Multiple residents asked for the name of the author.

“This person has served in public service for a long time and is now retired,” Drews prefaced his statement. “It’s Don Smucker.”

Some audience members burst into laughter at the announcement of Smucker’s name, leading to Drews to strike the table with his gavel and to point his finger at the audience, saying, “That’s enough.”

This action led to Simon telling Drews to “quit pointing your damn finger, man!” and accusing him of treating audience members like little kids. Simon then walked out of the meeting in frustration.

The Pine Township Board will hold a special meeting with its Planning Commission and township attorney at 6 p.m. on April 7 to discuss and possibly vote on the wind amendment.

[rest of article available at source]

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