As the dust begins to settle from the chaos resulting from Apex Clean Energy’s massive commercial wind turbine proposal for Montcalm County, a practical solution to zoning ordinance provisions for Montcalm Township has emerged. It is protective, popular, community-based, legally sound, reasonable and should satisfy almost everyone.
The three townships in Montcalm County that adjoin Montcalm Township have all adopted wind ordinances. Sidney, Eureka and Pine townships have adopted ordinances that are protective of their residents and their rural lifestyle, have been approved by multiple attorneys as reasonable and not exclusionary and are extremely popular with their residents. Although responsibly-sited commercial wind turbines are permitted in these townships, a battalion of the incredibly large and powerful Apex-proposed wind turbines will not invade these townships. Conversely, those townships that have adopted irresponsible, unprotective wind ordinances have been plagued with recalls and referendums. Winfield Township is just another recent example.
As Montcalm Township is situated in the middle of Sidney, Eureka, and Pine townships, it makes sense to adopt similar, uniform provisions. It also simplifies the work of the Planning Commission and the Township Board. They can use (as Pine Township did) the Sidney Township ordinance as a model (or they can use the Eureka Township ordinance as a model), and add to it any additional protections appropriate for Montcalm Township.
Instead, the Montcalm Township Planning Commission has used a model ordinance that has (at least) 32 inconsistencies within the ordinance, inconsistencies with the current zoning ordinance, contradictions, legal issues, omissions and errors, and (at least) eight insufficiently-protective provisions. Although the Planning Commission was made aware of these problems, they addressed none of them. Instead, they only made a few changes – which actually further reduced the protections for township residents.
It is time for the Montcalm Township Planning Commission to work on a wind ordinance that will protect the township residents from the well-documented serious adverse health effects (for people and animals) that can be caused by commercial wind turbines, the significant (up to 25% to 43%) reduction in residential property values, the destruction of our unique and beautiful landscape and rural lifestyle, and the incredibly powerful turbines Apex intends to build in Montcalm County, which are more than twice as powerful as the commercial wind turbines currently standing in Michigan.
It is time for the Montcalm Township Board to encourage the Planning Commission to do so and to appoint members to the Planning Commission that will work diligently to protect the health, safety and welfare of the township residents. And it is time for all of the residents of Montcalm Township to require our public servants to truly serve the public, and adopt a wind ordinance that is in our best interests – as our neighboring townships have already done.
Richard D. Palmer and Jemery M. Palmer are Montcalm Township residents and landowners for the past 44 years
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