OAKFIELD TOWNSHIP – The Oakfield Township Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on June 21 for proposed wind energy and solar energy ordinances.
Township Supervisor Greg Dean requested that township attorney James Scales of the Mika Meyers law firm draw up the drafts, which the Planning Commission reviewed during a May 17 meeting.
Planning Commission Chairman James Tilton, Township Board Trustee Bryan Porter and planning commissioners Anthony Marko, Dannie Marko, William Pelak, David Pusczak and Ashlee Vanderkooi were all present at the meeting, while a Daily News reporter was the only person in the audience.
Anthony Marko asked if the draft ordinances could be posted on the township’s website so people could read them ahead of the public hearing, but Tilton said people should come to the township hall and request them instead.
“What does it hurt to put it on the website?” Anthony Marko asked, noting it took him about an hour to read through both drafts.
“I would think people would want to be informed when they attend the public hearing,” Dannie Marko agreed.
“Come early if you want to read it,” Vanderkooi responded.
Both drafts, as well as a letter written by the township attorney, can be viewed on the Daily News website with the online version of this story.
The draft solar ordinance for utility grid systems states that a minimum lot area of 20 acres is required, with maximum coverage of 40%. Setbacks of 150 feet are required feet from non-participating lot lines or rights-of-way and 300 feet from any existing dwelling. Height is limited to 15 feet, but may be increased to 35 feet if it is shown that the additional height is necessary and will not have a substantial adverse effect on adjacent or nearby lands. Noise is limited to 45 decibels Lmax as measured from any property line.
The draft wind ordinance states that wind turbines exceeding 120 feet in height or properties proposed for more than one turbine are required to obtain special land use approval. Turbines exceeding 120 feet in height are required to have setbacks of 1.5 times the turbine’s height, but setbacks may be increased or reduced at the discretion of the township board. Turbines are limited to a maximum height of 199 feet, but the height may be increased upon a showing that the tower will be harmonious with adjacent neighboring lands. Noise is limited to 55 decibels at the property line. Turbines must be designed so that shadow flicker does not have a significant adverse effect upon adjacent properties, occupied buildings or dwellings and must not cause serious effects on other lands.
Pusczak noted the wind turbine issue is a hot one in Montcalm County, which he often drives through.
“You see the yard signs for and against,” he said. “I think it’s very good what we’re doing. We’re getting ahead of the curve, we’re going to have something in place because it’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when.”
Anthony Marko noted the draft wind ordinance only refers to shadow flicker from sunrise to sunset and he questioned whether the moon might pose an issue with turbines at night.
“A full bright moon could cause a flicker,” he said.
Meanwhile, Pelak wondered if turbines would interfere with communication towers (even though the draft wind ordinance states that no turbines shall be installed in any location where its proximity would produce electromagnetic interference with signal transmission or reception).
“They’ve done a bunch of studies and they’ve found that big towers spinning does cause interference with people who live within a couple of miles,” Pelak said. “It’s getting to be a serious problem the more that we’re putting up these towers. In Europe, that’s the biggest complaint now because they all went to digital signals and they’re saying everything is messed up now.”
The Planning Commission voted 7-0 to pass on their minor amendments on both drafts to Dean and the township attorney and to hold a public hearing on both ordinances on June 21.
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