• Oakfield Twp. Planning Commission sets public hearing for wind, solar ordinances
    OAKFIELD TOWNSHIP – The Oakfield Township Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on June 21 for proposed wind energy and solar energy ordinances. Township Supervisor Greg Dean requested that township attorney James Scales of the Mika Meyers law firm draw up the drafts, which the Planning Commission reviewed during a May 17 meeting. Planning Commission Chairman James Tilton, Township Board Trustee Bryan Porter and planning commissioners Anthony Marko, Dannie Marko, William Pelak, David Pusczak and Ashlee Vanderkooi were all present . . .
  • Bronson Township won’t pass zoning ordinance
    Bronson Township’s plan to create a zoning ordinance are dead. The township board in early 2020 named members to Bronson Township Planning Commission, with plans to begin meetings in March to draft an ordinance. COVID-19 and the lockdown intervened. “Everything kind of came to a screeching halt,” Township supervisor Ken Carpenter said. “We couldn’t meet face-to-face.” Some members of the planning commission did not have electronic access for Zoom meetings, Carpenter said. “Once they started to open things up, there . . .
  • Maple Valley Township Board tables wind ordinance
    MAPLE VALLEY TOWNSHIP – The Maple Valley Township Board tabled a proposed wind ordinance Monday, followed by nearly an hour of passionate public comments. The township’s Planning Commission in April recommended the ordinance to the township board. The Montcalm County Planning Commission reviewed the ordinance on May 2 and made suggestions, including John Johansen recommending the removal of “Lmax” from the sound language, changing shadow flicker language to “occupied buildings” instead of from non-participating property lines, decreasing the three times tip . . .
  • Letter another example of a lack on integrity
    To the Douglass Township Board in reply to the letter you sent to my address through the Patriots for Montcalm. I am not part of an anti-renewable energy group, nor is anyone in this township part of that group. I am part of a township coalition working toward protecting Douglass township from the hazards of the big fans. Please stop portraying us as the bad guys while you play victim. You are not the victims. You are the perpetrators of . . .
  • Delta County may pass zoning to townships
    The county’s zoning ordinance lays out how properties can be used, sets zone-specific building requirements, and outlines restrictions for developments that could be considered nuisances or environmental hazards, such as wind farms, commercial dog kennels, and gas stations. If the ordinance were to be repealed, communities now under the county’s rules would have to develop their own zoning or accept that development would happen organically and without any protection for residents against the actions of their neighbors.
  • Industrial wind turbines … the corruption of zoning
    Industrializing rural counties with commercial wind turbines will deconstruct many aspects of country life, none so obvious as zoning. Zoning regulation exists to protect us from development infringing on adjacent property rights and values, as well as to preserve the essential nature of our communities by creating zones of like kind areas of development. Effective zoning promotes orderly development, harmonious with the nature of the community as a whole. To pretend industrial turbines are harmonious with agricultural farming in rural . . .
  • Time to put wind issue to rest
    I just finished the story on the “study” put together by the Upjohn Institute. You could say it could be construed as an advertisement for Apex Clean Energy instead of study. Anyone find it interesting that the author of this study has no dogs in the fight even though he was paid to write this study with funding by Apex? Sounds similar to lease holders being on township boards and not recusing themselves from decisions on turbine zoning issues even . . .
  • Richland Township approves wind ordinance, skips county review
    RICHLAND TOWNSHIP – A new wind energy ordinance approved by the Richland Township Board will take effect next week. The township board voted on March 3 to approve the ordinance and to send it to an attorney for final approval. The vote was unanimous with Supervisor Jody Penrod, Clerk Laurie Darmody, Treasurer Connie Marshall and trustees Scott Marshall and Cal Callison all voting “yes.” The township published notice of adoption of the ordinance in the April 13 issue of the Daily . . .
  • Whitmer’s support of nuclear power shows how renewable energy has fallen short
    Data from the Energy Information Agency show that Michigan is still depending much more on nuclear power than renewables.
  • 3 Douglass Township Board members sign letter as recall looms
    “I will be signing the (recall) petition along with my husband,” [township resident Kim] Croy said. “You have proven yourselves unworthy of the elected position you currently hold and nothing you say at this point could mend the rift that you have created by being so arrogant to those who once trusted you.” “Thank you for the letter,” township resident Wendie Switala told the township board. “It really clarified a lot of things. “Stop it,” she told them. “Stop the flyers, stop the attorneys, do what you’re going to do because we’re going to referendum it (the wind ordinance) anyhow. So quit wasting the taxpayers’ money. Our time to vote is coming.”
  • Montcalm County Planning Commission praises Winfield Township wind ordinance, recommends changes to Maple Valley Township ordinance
    Leslie Rydahl of Pine Township also addressed Johansen. “There are a lot of people within Montcalm County that do not want to see our county end up like Gratiot or Isabella counties,” Rydahl said. “Mr. Johansen is simply reiterating the Apex preferred wind ordinance. I think what you’re failing to recognize is that you have a lot of people in your county who don’t want these at all. I understand a couple of you gentlemen are really, really for this project and there are a lot of people in Montcalm County who are taking offense to that.
  • Benko elected, Welder recalled from Sidney Township Board
    SIDNEY TOWNSHIP – The leader of a group “advocating against the irresponsible and invasive placement of industrial wind turbines and solar arrays in Montcalm County” was elected to the Sidney Township Board on Tuesday, ousting a trustee who supports a proposed wind farm and who voted against the township’s wind energy ordinance. Erik Benko received 389 votes in Tuesday’s recall election compared to incumbent Trustee Jed Welder who received 196 votes – a 63% to 32% margin. Sidney Township saw a 32% . . .
  • Douglass Twp. planner resigns after comments about wind turbines, communication towers
    DOUGLASS TOWNSHIP – A Douglass Township planning commissioner has resigned after making statements at a meeting last week about wind turbines interfering with communication towers. Todd Wells confirmed with the Daily News on Tuesday that he resigned from the Planning Commission on Monday after serving for 20 years. He told the Daily News he resigned “partly because your article was my final straw.” The Daily News published a story Saturday about last Wednesday’s Planning Commission meeting at which Wells stated he’s . . .
  • Ill communication?
    The Daily News contacted AT&T and Verizon to clarify the cell phone question, and those companies referred the Daily News to CTIA, a trade association that represents the U.S. wireless communications industry. “I am not familiar with this issue and have no information to share,” said Nick Ludlum, senior vice president and chief communications officer with CTIA.
  • ‘A lot of dollars’
    [Erik Benko, founder of Montcalm County Citizens United] told the Daily News that to say he and other members of Citizens United are disappointed in the methodology and content of the Upjohn report, “would be an understatement.” He said he considers the Upjohn report to be “a direct response” to his own report, which he says was compiled with layperson residents and township officials in mind. “We really would have expected Apex and Upjohn to follow suit in the creation of a transparent and intuitive document executed with humble intellectual honesty, but apparently that is asking too much,” Benko said.
  • Amended Montcalm Township wind energy ordinance to be sent to attorney for review
    Several members in the audience demanded that the commission ask the township board to promote the concept of surveying property owners to receive a township-wide opinion on turbines. “If I lived in Montcalm Township, I would come unglued about not having a survey,” Pine Township resident Leslie Rydahl said. “It’s totally unfair, and this is not personal at all against Laurie, but Apex has endless dollars to spend on postcards, open houses, demonstrations and the citizens are left at your mercy. If you don’t put out a survey, you’re just going to have a few of us who come here month after month. That’s not fair to those who even know what’s going on yet.”
  • Montcalm County commissioners quiz Economic Alliance director about Greenville participation, wind energy project
    Apex Clean Energy has been working for several years now to install a wind turbine farm in multiple townships throughout Montcalm County. Apex is a current investor of the MEA and has contributed financially to the MEA since 2020. Carr has publicly spoken in support of Apex’s project and he has also signed his own personal property leases with Apex, while Blomstrom has publicly voiced her concern with Apex’s project.
  • Winfield Township Planning Commission advances wind ordinance, angering residents
    WINFIELD TOWNSHIP – The Winfield Township Planning Commission on Thursday voted 8-1 to recommend approval of a wind energy ordinance, which will almost certainly go to a voter referendum. Chairman Chris Rader and members John Black, Ken Fisk, Ben Gordon, George Hubbard, Kenny Jones, Jake Newman and Dale Ulrich all voted to recommend the ordinance to the township board, while Ken Kool cast the lone dissenting vote at the end of a chaotic meeting three-hour meeting. The Montcalm County Planning Commission . . .
  • ‘There has to be some give and take’
    MAPLE VALLEY TOWNSHIP – A township where owners of nearly 10,000 acres of land are on board with a proposed wind energy project saw its proposed ordinance take a step forward last week. The Maple Valley Township Planning Commission voted 5-1 to recommend its wind ordinance to the township board last Thursday. The Montcalm County Planning Commission will review the ordinance and offer feedback before it goes to the township board for a vote. The proposed ordinance calls for a turbine . . .
  • Wind energy company pleads guilty to killing eagles
    The wind energy company ESI Energy Inc. (ESI) must pay more than $8 million in fines and restitution and serve a five-year probation after pleading guilty to violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, according to a statement released by the United States Department of Justice. In the U.S., ESI is a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Inc., one of the largest providers of renewable energy, per Reuters’ Barbara Goldberg. The company deliberately elected not to apply for proper permits for “any . . .
  • Ruling on eagle deaths divides wind power industry
    The sentencing of a wind energy company this week in the deaths of at least 150 eagles has brought renewed focus to the complicated relationship between wind turbines and birds. A subsidiary of NextEra Energy, the world’s biggest generator of wind and solar power, pleaded guilty to three deaths of bald and golden eagles in Wyoming and New Mexico. It also acknowledged that more than 100 other eagles had been killed across 50 of its 54 wind farms, primarily during . . .
  • Room for compromise; Pine Township approves amended wind ordinance
    “Yes, we have represented townships across the state against alternative energy companies in many different types of litigation and that’s why I think we get the reputation that we do, but we also represent communities that have more permissive ordinances as well,” [township attorney Leslie] Abdoo added. “I think it’s not fair to say that we as a law firm have one track of mind when it comes to these types of projects.” “I think we risk the possibility of legal litigation either way,” Drews noted. As the meeting concluded, audience members seemed unsure how to react to the new ordinance, as it includes language to like and dislike on both sides of the wind argument.
  • Wind operator to pay $8M in pact over killing eagles
    A leading wind farm operator has agreed to pay fines and other fees totaling just over $8 million, plus potentially spending millions of additional dollars, because its operations were linked to the deaths of at least 150 eagles over about a decade. Partly at issue was whether the energy producer should have applied for permits before its operations killed the birds, or if the business should have taken other actions. The legal case points up the fact that responsible wind . . .
  • Energy company to pay up to $35 million after turbines killed eagles
    An American wind energy company has admitted to killing at least 150 bald and golden eagles, most of which were fatally struck by wind turbine blades, federal prosecutors said. ESI Energy pleaded guilty Tuesday to three counts of violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) after eagles died at three of its facilities in Wyoming and New Mexico, according to a statement from the Justice Department. The MBTA prohibits killing, capturing or transporting protected migratory bird species without a permit. . . .
  • Douglass Township Board members say fault of Google Drive edit incident ‘inconclusive’
    Also during Wednesday’s meeting, the board voted — again — to approve and ratify a letter sent out to the public regarding the township’s wind ordinance process. The township board sent out a Feb. 1 letter to the public but failed to vote on it beforehand. The board voted on March 2 to correct the oversight; however, one of the votes to approve the letter at the March 2 meeting was made by Deputy Treasurer Holli Almas. A deputy treasurer is not an elected official and is not allowed to cast votes per state law. The board voted again Wednesday to approve and ratify the wind letter, this time with all five elected board members voting “yes.”
  • US firm fined $8m after 150 eagles die at its wind farms
    A US-based wind energy firm called ESI Energy, has been slapped with an $8m fine after at least 150 eagles died at its wind farms across eight states over the last 10 years. The company has also been given five years of probation. ESI Energy, a subsidiary of NextEra Energy, has pleaded guilty to three counts of violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The company acknowledged the deaths of golden and bald eagles since 2012 at its farms in Wyoming, . . .
  • Renewables company pleads guilty, must pay $8 million for wind-turbine deaths of 150 eagles
    A renewable-energy company subsidiary pleaded guilty on federal criminal charges Tuesday and ordered to pay $8 million in fines and restitution for killing more than 150 eagles at wind farms in eight states. In addition ESI Energy, a subsidiary of renewables giant NextEra Energy, received five years of probation on three counts of violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act stemming from the deaths of nine eagles in wind farms in Wyoming and New Mexico. Golden and bald eagles at 50 . . .
  • Wind energy company kills 150 eagles in US, pleads guilty
    A subsidiary of one of the largest U.S. providers of renewable energy pleaded guilty to criminal charges and was ordered to pay over $8 million in fines and restitution after at least 150 eagles were killed at its wind farms in eight states, federal prosecutors said Wednesday. NextEra Energy subsidiary ESI Energy was also sentenced to five years probation after being charged with three counts of violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act during a court appearance in Cheyenne, Wyoming. The . . .
  • Montcalm County Planning Commission suggests changes to Belvidere Township wind ordinance
    STANTON – The Montcalm County Planning Commission had an overall complimentary response to Belvidere Township’s proposed wind energy ordinance. The county Planning Commission reviewed the draft ordinance on Monday, which was recommended by that township’s Planning Commission on March 8 for approval by the township board. The county Planning Commission reviews local township ordinances in an advisory capacity only. Eight members of the county’s Planning Commission were present: Chairman S. Michael Scott, Mike Beach, Daniel Brant, Chuck Hill, Chris Marks, Lonnie . . .
  • Ferris Twp. Board considers creating wind, solar rules
    In answer to the question, “Are you in favor of or opposed to wind energy in Ferris Township?” 64% of respondents (105 people) were against, while 35% of respondents (58 people) were in favor (1%, or one person, was defined as “other”).
  • ‘We hereby apologize’
    DOUGLASS TOWNSHIP – Four members of the Douglass Township Board are retracting an allegation they publicly made against a former Planning Commission member. Supervisor Terry Anderson, Clerk Ronda Snyder, Treasurer Amy Laper and Trustee Tom Jeppesen all signed the retraction and apology letter regarding Cindy Shick. The letter was dated Tuesday and was filed with the Montcalm County Election Commission on Thursday. The letter was written “under the advice of their attorney,” according to Montcalm County Clerk Kristen Millard who placed . . .
  • ‘We can referendum this for 1,000 years’
    DOUGLASS TOWNSHIP – The township’s attorney is proposing the adoption of a two-part ordinance for the township to fall back on if a pending new wind energy ordinance goes to a voter referendum. During Wednesday’s Douglass Township Planning Commission meeting, attorney Ron Redick suggested the township approve a bifurcated ordinance to include portions of the township’s 2017 wind ordinance – an ordinance that was improperly noticed and never published. The Douglass Township Board voted 5-0 to approve a wind ordinance in November . . .
  • Agreement reached in wind turbine tax dispute
    Huron County’s years-long dispute about wind turbine taxes is finally coming to an end. Commissioner Mary Babcock announced this week that a draft agreement has been reached between DTE and 17 townships to resolve the issue of wind turbine taxation. Babcock said key elements of the agreement were negotiated by the Michigan Renewable Energy Collaborative, which include a refund of a fraction of the outstanding claims of between the years 2016 and 2021. The new multiplier table used for assessing . . .
  • Questions raised about Douglass Township public notices, deputy treasurer votes
    Perhaps most concerning, Almas seconded a motion to approve and ratify a decision to send a Feb. 1 letter to the public regarding the township’s wind ordinance process — something which the township board had previously failed to vote on before sending out the letter and thus voted to ratify to approve at March’s meeting to correct the oversight. According to MCL 41.77, “The deputy, in case of the absence, sickness, death or other disability of the treasurer, shall possess the powers and perform the duties of the treasurer, except the deputy shall not have a vote on the township board.”
  • Maple Valley Township residents make multiple votes at annual meeting
    “We have nothing to show for the wasted money except an (proposed wind) ordinance that is highly unpopular with residents and will likely become void after referendum,” [township resident Tyler] Trierweiler said. “You might as well have taken our money, put it in a box and burned it.” Trierweiler made a motion to change the professional services line item from $50,000 to $15,000 ($10,000 more than what was budgeted last year). This motion was seconded by township resident Mike Poulsen. “What happens if we need the lawyer and then there’s no money for it?” asked Anne Petersen, who is a member of the Planning Commission. “Why not leave it alone? It doesn’t mean we’re going to spend that much.” “I agree totally,” Schwandt responded. Trierweiler’s motion passed with a majority of “yes” votes from audience members, although at least several board members and a few audience members voted “no” (specific votes could not be heard as there was no roll call taken).
  • Recall effort moves forward for 3 Douglass Township officials
    STANTON – The Montcalm County Election Commission on Wednesday voted to deny 19 sets of wind-related recall language involving two townships and to approve three sets of recall language against three township officials. Montcalm County Judge Charles Simon III, Montcalm County Clerk Kristen Millard and Montcalm County Treasurer JoAnne Vukin voted to approve one set each of recall language against Douglass Township Supervisor Terry Anderson, Clerk Ronda Snyder and Trustee Tom Jeppesen while denying the nine other sets of recall language. . . .
  • County commission ready to update Master Plan
    The 2021 Branch County Master Plan is ready for county commission approval Thursday with three minor tweaks. The first plan was written in 1974, last updated in 1993. The impetus for the update came in 2019. Concerns Citizens of Branch County asked county commissioners to adopt a countywide wind turbine ordinance. Since then, concerns have turned to large solar farms. The public hearing last Thursday saw little comment. Consultant Patrick Hudson, who retired from the Southcentral Michigan Planning Council, was . . .
  • Eureka Township planners back new zoning ordinance
    EUREKA TOWNSHIP – Having spent more than a year working on revisions and updates to the township’s zoning ordinance, Eureka Township Planning Commission Chairman Duane Putnam was excited to reach a resolution Wednesday evening. After numerous meetings in which members of the commission discussed every element of the 257-page ordinance, members of the Commission voted unanimously Wednesday evening to recommend approval of the updated ordinance to the Eureka Township Board. “We did it,” Township Supervisor and Zoning Administrator Darcia Kelley said . . .
  • Taxation without representation
    That term summarizes what is occurring in Montcalm County regarding township boards, citizens and the wind issue that came slithering in with wind representatives dangling green-backed sugar plums in our neighbors’ heads while most of the county was unaware. I am a 30-year resident of Douglass Township. We receive two tax notices per year. Not one time since Apex Clean Energy started courting our officials did we ever receive notice what was about to transpire. We were never surveyed to . . .
  • ‘Restrictive, unreasonable and ridiculous’
    Drews concluded reading the letter, at first not saying the name of who wrote it. Multiple residents asked for the name of the author. “This person has served in public service for a long time and is now retired,” Drews prefaced his statement. “It’s Don Smucker.” Some audience members burst into laughter at the announcement of Smucker’s name, leading to Drews to strike the table with his gavel and to point his finger at the audience, saying, “That’s enough.”
  • Pine Township Board tables wind ordinance, PC member publicly denounces wind developer, 2 men leave amid eventful meeting
    Planning Commissioner Dan Main, a farmer, was blunt in getting to the point about his primary concern. “What I have concluded throughout this two-plus year process is that I do not trust them, and by them I mean Apex,” Main said. “I don’t trust what they say, I don’t trust what they do and I certainly do not trust what they say they’re going to do. Who would ever thought that in such a short amount of time an entity could come to our county and create such a divide? They are professionals and they know what works.”
  • Division in Douglass Township
    The wind topic has been controversial and has created a chasm in the communities involved. Division among families and neighbors, some of which will be irreparable. Money can bring out the true character of people. Money also brings out the sense of entitlement in people. Leadership in the townships has faltered. The oath taken by township officials is to protect the health, safety and welfare of all citizens, not just the minority of those with a vested interest. I applaud . . .
  • Winfield Township resident files to recall entire township board over wind/solar
    WINFIELD TOWNSHIP – On Thursday evening, the Winfield Township Board voted to schedule a public hearing for a proposed wind energy ordinance, even as a solar energy ordinance remains in question. On Friday morning, a township resident filed recall language petitions against the entire township board. The township board voted 3-2 on Thursday to hold a Planning Commission public hearing on the topic of a proposed wind ordinance at 7 p.m. on April 11 at Crossroads Worship Center north of Howard . . .
  • Montcalm Township Board fills Planning Commission vacancy, despite objections
    “I’m leaning toward David Jacobsen myself, only because I know he’s middle of the road — he’s not either way — and all of the other candidates are either a definite ‘for’ or definite ‘against,’” Hyde said. “Either way in regards to what? Cousineau asked. “Either for wind or anti-wind,” she answered, referring to the Commission’s efforts to amend the township’s wind energy ordinance. “I didn’t know we were considering people based off of wind,” Cousineau said. “We’re not supposed to pick a Planning Commission member based off of just (one issue).” “Nope, but that’s who I picked,” Crowley responded.
  • Belvidere Township Planning Commission sends wind ordinance to township board
    BELVIDERE TOWNSHIP – The township Planning Commission is sending its draft wind energy ordinance to the board after making a few more tweaks. The ordinance will first be reviewed by the Montcalm County Planning Commission before going to a vote at the township board level. Belvidere Township Planning Commission Chairwoman Betty Jo “BJ” Cogswell and members Fran Christensen, Joe Lahti, Pat Stuller, Lanny Vanderveen and Wayne Watts were all present for Tuesday’s half-hour meeting, while Marcia Pant was absent. The purpose . . .
  • Montcalm County planners voice concerns about Pine Township’s proposed wind ordinance
    STANTON – Nine months ago, the Montcalm County Planning Commission met to review Sidney Township’s wind ordinance and determined it was “too restrictive.” On Monday, the county Planning Commission met to review Pine Township’s wind ordinance – which is mostly based on Sidney’s – and reached the same conclusion. Chairman S. Michael Scott and county planners Mike Beach, Chuck Hill, John Johansen, Chris Mark, Lonnie Smith and Armon Withey were all present while Daniel Brant and Rob Spohr were both absent. The main . . .
  • Maple Valley Township PC to scrap sound engineer presentation
    MAPLE VALLEY TOWNSHIP – The Maple Valley Township Planning Commission will hold a special meeting on Thursday to finalize having its wind ordinance draft to go to a public hearing, as well as to likely cancel a planned sound engineer presentation. Although the township website says the purpose of the meeting is to “vote to pass the current wind ordinance,” Planning Commission Chairman Roger Becker told the Daily News this will not be happening at the 7 p.m. Thursday meeting. He . . .
  • ‘Defamation of character’
    DOUGLASS TOWNSHIP – A former planning commissioner accused the Douglass Township Board of publicly lying about her, even as a township trustee threw back his head and laughed in response. Wednesday evening’s meeting began with Supervisor Terry Anderson, Clerk Ronda Snyder and Trustee Tom Jeppesen voting to ratify a decision regarding the township board sending out a Feb. 1 letter to the public regarding the township’s work on a wind energy ordinance. The vote came one month after the fact of . . .
  • 2nd hearing on Douglass Twp. recall set for March 23
    DOUGLASS TOWNSHIP – Multiple additional rounds of proposed recall language were filed against the Douglass Township Board on Thursday, just days after the Montcalm County Election Commission voted to deny the first round of recall language. Ben Reynolds of Douglass Township filed recall petitions on Feb. 14 against four Douglass Township Board members – Supervisor Terry Anderson, Clerk Ronda Snyder, Treasurer Amy Laper and Trustee Tom Jeppesen. The Election Commission voted 3-0 on Monday to deny the proposed recall language due to . . .
  • Referendum ‘a done deal’?
    During public comment, Dave Meyers of Winfield Township warned that the wind ordinance would go to a referendum if the Planning Commission didn’t listen to residents’ feedback. “We are getting organized and we’re paying close attention to what you guys are saying,” he said. “I hope you’re listening close to what we’re saying. You’re falling short on a few things. Height of the towers — that’s a big deal. You guys don’t think it’s a big deal — we think it’s a big deal. You should be thinking 300 feet, four times setback, no shadow flicker on a non-participating property. Those are things that gotta be there. If you don’t, we’re just gonna referendum.