Wind farm issue blows change in L’Anse Township Board

NOV 7, 2018 | JOSHUA VISSERS | The Mining Gazette

After a busy election day, the L’Anse Township Board will see only one change in its composition. Wallace “Buddy” Sweeney defeated the incumbent Brian Kissel 793-638, with only seven unresolved write-ins.

Sweeney ran as an independent against Kissel on the Republican ticket.

Kissel, owner of Kissel Automotive in L’Anse, was appointed to his seat on the board in July of this year but has been criticized for his role in approving ordinances that would allow for the permitting of wind turbines in the Summit Lake Wind Project proposed by Renewable Energy Systems (RES). He was also appointed as the board liaison to the township’s Planning Commission, the committee that reviews and recommends zoning changes to the board.

Sweeney said he wants to take time to deeply consider the zoning ordinance changes that he believed are being pushed through the township government for RES’s benefit. He doesn’t like the proposed location of the project on and around Mount Arvon.

Republican Pete Magaraggia retained his seat as L’Anse Township supervisor. His Democratic opponent Polly Schaefer received 588 votes to his 884.

Magaraggia has been the single dissenting vote on the board in several recent decisions about the zoning ordinances, most recently when changes to zoning that would allow permits to be issued to large wind turbines in forest resource districts were recommended by the Planning Commission.

A group against the proposed wind project, the Friends of the Huron Mountains, is currently collecting signatures on a petition to hold a referendum on those changes.

Schaefer, currently working for Weyerhaeuser, centered her bid for the supervisor role on strong leadership and an eye toward recreation enhancement in the township.

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