A new wind energy ordinance approved by the Richland Township Board will take effect next week.
The township board voted on March 3 to approve the ordinance and to send it to an attorney for final approval. The vote was unanimous with Supervisor Jody Penrod, Clerk Laurie Darmody, Treasurer Connie Marshall and trustees Scott Marshall and Cal Callison all voting “yes.”
The township published notice of adoption of the ordinance in the April 13 issue of the Daily News stating that it will take effect 30 days after publication (which will be May 13).
While the majority of local townships have had the Montcalm County Planning Commission review drafted wind and solar ordinances in an advisory capacity before township boards vote on them, Richland Township skipped this step.
“No, it didn’t go before them,” Penrod confirmed with the Daily News. “We talked about it. It wasn’t anything against them. They were either going to say, ‘we like this or we don’t like that.’ We don’t have a county ordinance, so I struggled with that aspect of it. The county doesn’t have a wind ordinance but they’re going to make recommendations to us? Ours has been approved by two different lawyers. It (a county review) wasn’t a showstopper for us.”
Richland Township’s wind ordinance is patterned on an ordinance from Seville Township in Gratiot County.
Regarding turbine height, the final version of the ordinance states, “The applicant shall demonstrate compliance with the Michigan Tall Structure Act, Federal Aviation Administration guidelines, local airport zoning as part of the approval process, and not to exceed 500 feet tip height” (Richland Township doesn’t have an airport).
The ordinance requires turbine setbacks of two times a turbine’s tip height or 1,000 feet from an occupied building of participating parcels, and no less than three times a turbine’s tip height or 1,640 feet from the property line of non-participating parcels. Setbacks of 1.2 times a turbine’s tip height are required from roads.
The noise portion of the ordinance is a bit wordy and complicated, as follows: “Wind energy facilities shall not exceed 55 db(A) at the habitable structure closest to the wind energy system. This sound pressure level may be exceeded during short-term events, such as utility outages and/or severe wind storms. If the ambient sound pressure level exceeds 55 db(A), the standard shall be ambient db(A) plus 5 db(A).
The noise language continues as follows: “Non-participating member: Daytime 55 Lmax. Night period of 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., 55 Lmax during night period, non-participating sound measured at the property line. Participating: Day and nighttime 55 Lmax measured at occupied building. Non-participating member: Daytime 65 Lmax, night period 55 Lmax. Participating member: No restrictions.”
The ordinance limits shadow flicker to 30 hours per year from any occupied building on a participating property, while shadow flicker is not allowed on non-participating properties.
Decommissioning requirements state that a surety security guarantee of at least $800,000 per unit is required and there must be at least $400,000 in a cash savings account established per unit designated for the removal of each unit. Removal of any tower must allow restoration of the soil at the site to a depth of 4 feet.
The Daily News is not aware of any properties in Richland Township that have signed leases with Apex, and Apex officials have not said they are considering that township for their proposed Montcalm County wind project.
“I haven’t heard anything from Apex, they never even reached out to us in the beginning so I don’t think we’re on the priority list or even on their list,” Penrod said.
See the online version of this story for a complete copy of Richland Township’s wind ordinance.
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