The Bloomer Township Planning Commission continues to be in no hurry to vote on a wind and solar energy ordinance.
The Planning Commission held a public hearing Wednesday evening on the draft ordinance – the second public hearing that’s been held on the matter. The 16-minute meeting adjourned with the Planning Commission once again declining to take action in advancing the ordinance to the township board.
“I have on the agenda a call for a vote, but I’m not going to do that tonight,” Chairman Doug Proctor said at the conclusion of the brief meeting. “We’re going to do some more discussion.”
The Planning Commission has been working on a wind and solar ordinance for more than three years now – since the spring of 2019 – with the assistance of attorney Bill Fahey of Okemos-based law firm Fahey Schultz Burzych Rhodes. The township board was set to vote on adopting the ordinance in January 2021, but they voted to table it based on concerns of future litigation and sent it back to the Planning Commission.
Most recently, the Planning Commission agreed to remove the following language regarding commercial turbine height limits: “the township board may approve a turbine height greater than 500 feet if the applicant clearly demonstrates that such greater height would be in the interest of persons and properties within and surrounding the wind park.” The removal of this language means turbines will be limited to 500 feet with no exceptions unless a wind developer takes the matter to the township’s Zoning Board of Appeals.
“We didn’t like that loophole in there, we thought we’d keep it at 500 feet,” Proctor summarized.
“We’ve added a lot of restrictions, we’ve made it more restrictive, we’ve asked our lawyer to make it more restrictive,” he added. “I’m not saying we’re trying to run them (wind developers) away from us, but we wanted to make things difficult if they do want to come here. I think we’ve got a pretty good ordinance here. It’s pretty restrictive.”
Montcalm County Commissioner Michael Beach of Carson City was present and referenced Monday’s Montcalm County Planning Commission meeting at which county planners voiced their frustration that some local townships are declining to send draft ordinances to the county for review before those ordinances are voted on at the township board level.
“I assume most of you read the article that was published in today’s Daily News in regards to our Planning Commission meeting on Monday,” Beach said. “There was at least four if not five representatives, especially from Cato and Douglass townships, in regard to their (wind) proposals to us. The Planning Commission of Montcalm County can’t dictate what you’re doing here tonight. That’s still up to you as individuals. All we’re doing as the Planning Commission for Montcalm County is just reviewing and offering suggestions on changes for things that we see.”
“When we come to a vote, this copy will go to the Montcalm County Planning Commission … for any feedback from them before we move forward,” Proctor said.
“I thank you for that,” Beach responded.
The Bloomer Township Planning Commission is next scheduled to meet on July 12.
The Bloomer Township Board is next scheduled to meet on July 18.
A CLOSER LOOK
Bloomer Township’s solar ordinance as drafted (not yet approved) calls for:
• Large solar arrays limited to 15 feet in height with other components limited to 35 feet in height.
• Large solar arrays must be located on 10 acres or more and are exempt from maximum lot coverage limitations.
• Large solar arrays must have setbacks of 100 feet from all non-participating property boundaries.
• Large solar array sound is limited to 50 decibels as measured at the outside perimeter of the project and may not be exceeded for more than 6 minutes (L10) in any hour of the day.
Bloomer Township’s wind parks ordinance as drafted (not yet approved) calls for:
• Large wind turbine height limited to 500 feet.
• Large turbine setbacks of 2,000 feet from non-participating property, unless the township board otherwise expressly provides in a special use permit.
• Large turbine sound limited to 45 decibels for participating properties and 40 decibels for non-participating properties.
• Large turbine shadow flicker limited to 30 hours per year.
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