Windy Uproar: Wind farm opponents object to commission’s appointment rejection

SEP 14, 2018 | Joshua Vissers |Mining Gazette

L’ANSE — Amid repeated outbursts from the assembled public, the L’Anse Township Board appointed three new members to the Planning Commission: JoAnn Pennock, Craig Kent and Joan Bugni.

“It seems like the wind energy board, but it’s really not,” Supervisor Peter Magaraggia said before making his first appointment.

JoAnn Pennock was unanimously approved to a two-year term on the planning commission. Pennock previously served on the commission that created the 2012 master plan for the townshp.

“She’s very good, she’s knowledgeable,” Magaraggia said.

Magaraggia then nominated Bob Kissel, a local contractor and member of Friends of the Huron Mountains, to a two-year term, citing his regular attendance at public meetings.

The Friends group has led opposition to the proposed wind farm project in L’Anse Township.

“He seems pretty well informed on what’s going on,” Magaraggia said of Kissel.

Board members Kristine Rice, Brian Kissel and Shelley Lloyd voted no, ending Bob Kissel’s chances at a commission seat.

The decision was met with murmurs from the public audience, including one exclamation of, “That’s outrageous!”

“We’ll table the rest, because like I said, we can’t have all the same thinking,” Magaraggia said. “I don’t see anything wrong with Bob Kissel.”

Magaraggia, authorized to appoint members to the commission as supervisor, insisted he was trying to insure a diversity of opinions on the Planning Commission.

Other board members and members of the public disagreed, accusing him of obstructing the work of the commission.

“We’ve been kicking the can down the road for how long now?” Brian Kissel asked.

For more than 10 minutes, Magaraggia, other board members, and members of the audience went back and forth about whether to continue with nominations or to table the matter for the month. Magaraggia eventually backed down and nominated Craig Kent for the remaining two-year term, and Joan Bugni for a one-year term.

Both were approved unanimously by the board.

Don Mleko, the township building inspector, stood up to defend his position on the permits issued to Renewable Energy Systems (RES) for the meteorological towers taking measurements at the sight of the proposed wind energy project.

He said he took RES officials at their word when they said they had “jumped through all the hoops,” but he now believes he never recieved a tall-structures permit from the state.

He said he would look the file over and send RES a letter with what it needed to submit.

“I’ll give them 15 days. After that, I’m going to revoke the permit,” Mleko said.

A representative from RES declined to comment.

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