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Winfield Township Board sends wind ordinance back to Planning Commission  

Credit:  By Elisabeth Waldon | Daily News | June 10, 2022 | www.thedailynews.cc ~~

WINFIELD TOWNSHIP – Why hurt your wrist scrolling through bottom of the barrel comments and insults plaguing Facebook and Twitter when you can simply attend a local township board meeting?

The Winfield Township Board on Wednesday evening voted to send a wind energy draft ordinance back to the Planning Commission amid an absolutely chaotic meeting. The Daily News reporter, who was sitting in the front row close to the township board, struggled to hear much of the board’s discussion due to the never-ending out-of-order commentary from some of the nearly 60 audience members present.

The township board voted 4-0 to place a height limit of 650 feet on wind turbines – something the Planning Commission previously deadlocked on doing, with the majority of the PC wanting no height limit whatsoever – but audience members at Wednesday’s meeting shouted out “Referendum!” and “Recall!” while pounding the floor in disagreement, wanting turbines restricted to a lower height.

Supervisor Phyllis Larson – who has signed a lease with Apex Clean Energy, the Virginia-based wind developer looking to bring a turbine project to Montcalm County – did not vote on Wednesday. At least three members of the township’s Planning Commission have also signed leases with Apex.

When Clerk Colleen Stebbins tried to ask attorney Kyle O’Meara a question about turbine sound limits, a man in the audience declared, “Who cares?” and was joined in by other hecklers.

“Would you guys please be quiet?” Stebbins asked. “I’d like to hear what he’s saying because I just asked a question.”

The interruptions continued as Stebbins asked a question about escrow accounts.

“Would you guys please be quiet?” asked Stebbins, raising her voice in frustration. “We let you talk, let us talk!”

Audience members scoffed and mocked her in response.

“Did I wake you up? Good!” Stebbins told them.

Audience members fed off each other, and anytime the attorney attempted to speak, things became worse with people hurling abuse and insults at him. Just one example from when the attorney tried to answer another question from a board member regarding sound limits:

“(Expletive! Expletive!)”

“Pinocchio!”

“You liar!”

“Liar, liar, liar!”

“I make a motion to fire the lawyer!”

“That’s enough, please! This is our turn to discuss this,” Larson told audience members, who ignored her.

“You’ve had your public comment! That’s enough!” Larson repeated to no avail.

Black eventually made a motion to approve the wind ordinance draft, but the motion failed due to no support. Cole then made a motion to send the draft back to the Planning Commission and that motion passed 3-1 with Cole, Killinger and Stebbins voting “yes” and Black voting “no.” Larson again did not vote.

It’s not clear how the Planning Commission will proceed as they’ve been working on the wind ordinance for two years now already. The township board didn’t provide much guidance for the PC other than setting a height limit and Killinger voicing concern with proposed sound limits and turbine setbacks as not being protective enough.

The next regular Planning Commission meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Aug. 22.

‘THIS ISN’T PRODUCTIVE’

During public comment, Winfield Township resident Kevin Murphy questioned the township’s special meeting notice for Wednesday’s meeting, which was rescheduled from the board’s typical Thursday meeting so Killinger could attend.

While a special meeting template document was in the window of the township hall, it appeared to be completely blank with no ink or pencil writing to be seen regarding the date, time and purpose of the meeting. The correct meeting date was posted on the township’s website (however, an out-of-date wind ordinance draft from March remains on the website as well).

“This meeting is in violation. This meeting is over with,” Murphy said.

“It’s in the window. The sun bleached it out, but it’s there,” Larson responded.

This comment resulted in multiple comments and scoffing, and things got worse when attorney O’Meara attempted to guide public comment back on track.

“Just run the board, Kyle!”

“We didn’t elect you.”

“You don’t run the meeting, Kyle!”

“You’re not an elected official.”

“The sun can’t bleach it out that quick.”

“Not in 18 days.”

“We wouldn’t do this if you weren’t trying to do what you’re trying to do to us,” Murphy told the township board. “It’s simple. You wanna adjourn?”

“No, because we did do it right,” Larson responded.

“You shouldn’t lie like that!”

“Get another supervisor!”

“You need to be quiet, young man (referring to O’Meara). You’re not on the board. Let the people talk.”

“This isn’t productive,” the attorney responded.

The interruptions continued throughout the night.

Two Montcalm County commissioners were present – Patrick Q. Carr of Cato Township and Kathy Bresnahan of Pine Township, both of whom are running for the same county board seat in November’s election due to redistricting changes – but neither one spoke, other than Carr providing a brief Lakeview District Fire Department report.

Source:  By Elisabeth Waldon | Daily News | June 10, 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 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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