• ‘Back to square one’
    DOUGLASS TOWNSHIP – The Douglass Township Planning Commission is hoping for another year to work on the challenge of creating a fair wind energy ordinance. Well over 100 people attended Wednesday’s three-hour-plus Douglass Township Planning Commission meeting, where a proposed “Citizens Ordinance” on wind energy was tabled until late October and the Planning Commission voted to recommend the township board extend a wind energy moratorium until August 2022. – DN Photo | Elisabeth Waldon More than 100 people packed Douglass Township Hall . . .
  • Montcalm County board chairman encourages wind project support
    STANTON – Up until now, the chairman of the Montcalm County Board of Commissioners has held back from publicly voicing his opinion regarding a wind turbine project proposed for the county. During Monday’s county board budget workshop meeting, Patrick Q. Carr decided to speak up. Carr, a Lakeview-area farmer and the fire chief of the Lakeview District Fire Department, has signed a lease with Apex Clean Energy, a Virginia-based wind energy developer which has proposed a 75-turbine project for an estimated . . .
  • Speaker gives tips for anti-wind zoning
    SOUTH RANGE – More than 100 people turned out Thursday night to listen to a zoning administrator lay out the best legal steps for stopping wind development in the area. Kevon Martis, zoning administrator for Deerfield Township in Lenawee County and an activist against large-scale wind and solar projects, addressed a crowd at the South Range Elementary School. After a half-hour presentation, Martis took questions from audience members, who were largely Adams and Stanton Township residents seeking to stop a proposed . . .
  • Rep. Outman working on wind turbine depreciation dispute
    PINE TOWNSHIP – As Montcalm County townships decide how to write wind energy zoning ordinances, a local state representative is working on legislation to address wind turbine depreciation disputes in neighboring counties. Rep. Pat Outman, R-Six Lakes, attended the July 19 meeting of the Pine Township Planning Commission where that township is just beginning to work on updating its wind ordinance. “You’ve probably been to a lot of these meetings,” Planning Commission Chairman Scott Millard said to Outman in the audience. . . .
  • Conflict of interest concerns and wind
    The topic of concern; Winfield Township officials. Below is the Winfield Township ethical standards: “All elected and appointed officials, employees and volunteers shall fulfill their duties with the utmost attention to serving the best interests of the township citizens, and no official, employee or volunteer shall participate in a decision or transaction on behalf of the township that would result in a direct financial benefit to the township official, employee, or volunteer. “Any official, employee or volunteer who believes that . . .
  • Winfield Township officials hear feedback on wind ordinance, conflict of interest
    WINFIELD TOWNSHIP – To absolutely no one’s surprise, wind energy was a major topic at a three-hour solar energy ordinance meeting and public hearing hosted by Winfield Township officials last Saturday afternoon. Tricia Korhorn of Winfield Township brought up the topic of wind during public comment by noting that Winfield Township Supervisor Phyllis Larson had previously said that the township wouldn’t begin working on a wind ordinance until they had an opportunity to hear from residents. The Planning Commission has been . . .
  • Respect each other’s views on wind
    The proposed wind energy system project in Montcalm County carries strong opinions both for and against them. One of the opinions from turbine supporters is that turbine opponents do not use facts or science to back up their concerns. It is my observation that turbine opponents are providing credible sources at township meetings, including a mix of scientific studies, firsthand accounts from people living near wind turbines, and personal observation. They are clearly stating and citing studies, sharing copies of . . .
  • Eureka Township awaiting wind ordinance recommendations
    EUREKA TOWNSHIP – As officials come close to updating this township’s 200-plus page zoning ordinance, one element of that ordinance continues to be discussed and reviewed – wind energy. The Eureka Township Planning Commission has spent more than a year working to update “Ordinance 79” – a 251-page document containing all of the township’s zoning laws. However, the section on wind energy is being given additional focus following concerns brought forward from members of the public. During Wednesday’s meeting, Planning Commission Chairman Duane . . .
  • Gratiot County couple shares wind turbine story with Cato Township
    CATO TOWNSHIP – As the Cato Township Planning Commission continues to work on amending its wind energy ordinance, a Gratiot County farming couple attended a July 14 meeting to share their experience. Dan and Nancy Welke live in Merrill, Lafayette Township, where they say they have one turbine less than 1,600 feet from their home and another one about 2,600 feet away. They say they have been “battling” with DTE Energy and Gratiot County officials for the last year and a . . .
  • Apex Clean Energy rep says proposed wind farm won’t be operational until at least 2024
    BELVIDERE TOWNSHIP – A wind farm project proposed for Montcalm County wouldn’t be operational until at least 2024 in a best case scenario. That’s according to Apex Clean Energy Public Engagement Manager Brian O’Shea who gave a presentation about Apex’s proposed Montcalm Wind project to the Belvidere Township Board on July 14. About 30 people were also in attendance in the audience. “We haven’t decided to bring our full presentation to Belvidere Township until now,” O’Shea noted. “We’re looking at land . . .
  • Montcalm Twp. Board receives clarification on conflict of interest issue
    MONTCALM TOWNSHIP – Honing in on the subject of a conflict of interest, Wednesday evening’s meeting of the Montcalm Township Board included plenty of opinions on what the fate of the Planning Commission chairman should be. Members of the township board entered into closed session for 47 minutes with township attorney Jeffrey Sluggett of Bloom Sluggett PC in Grand Rapids to review written legal opinions from Sluggett on an alleged conflict of interest with Planning Commission Chairman Richard “Dick” Karnatz. The . . .
  • Pine Township to update wind ordinance after survey results
    PINE TOWNSHIP – The Pine Township Planning Commission has scheduled the first of several special meetings to update its wind ordinance after surveys revealed that two-thirds of respondents are against large wind turbines being constructed. The Planning Commission met Monday evening, followed by a Pine Township Board meeting. The meetings ended with the Planning Commission scheduling the first of several special meetings for 5 p.m. on Monday at the township hall to discuss amending its wind ordinance. The township board also . . .
  • No wind moratorium yet in Winfield Township
    WINFIELD TOWNSHIP – Multiple residents continue to ask for a moratorium on wind energy permits in Winfield Township while township officials continue to work on a wind energy ordinance. The topic came up again during public comment at the July 8 meeting of the Winfield Township Board when several people asked whether township officials plan to enact a moratorium on wind projects, as they previously did on solar projects. Planning Commissioner Julia Potratz previously made a motion to place a six-month . . .
  • Two-thirds of Pine Township surveys say ‘no’ to large wind turbines
    PINE TOWNSHIP – A majority of Pine Township residents who completed a wind energy survey do not want large wind turbines in the community, period. Pine Township officials mailed out 950 wind energy surveys with 13 questions to township landowners and received 311 surveys back. Although the deadline to respond was May 26, the township has not posted the surveys online or made them public yet. The Daily News submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the surveys, for . . .
  • Exclusionary zoning in Michigan
    Over the past several months, officials in more than half the townships in Montcalm County have been working to put in place either new or amended wind energy ordinances. This is in response to Apex Clean Energy’s proposed construction of 75 or more 600-foot or taller wind turbines across these townships. Quite often township officials have claimed they can regulate but not prohibit Apex’s wind development plans for their township. “If we don’t give Apex what it wants,” those officials . . .
  • ‘It’s not your turn to talk’
    DOUGLASS TOWNSHIP – The Douglass Township supervisor adjourned Wednesday’s meeting after multiple audience members refused to comply with his requests for order. The action came a little more than one hour into the Douglass Township Board meeting amid public comment. Multiple other people had spoken without being interrupted – and then Apex Clean Energy Senior Development Manager Albert Jongewaard took the floor. Jongewaard thanked Planning Commission Secretary Cindy Shick for speaking with him recently and he encouraged others in the audience to . . .
  • More wind and solar installations likely in Mid-Michigan to combat climate change
    Environmentalists are sounding the alarm that more needs to be done right now to slow climate change. They are calling for more renewable energy to be generated in Michigan. That may mean more wind and solar farms around Mid-Michigan, adding to significant installations already in place. Wind and solar projects are a hot topic around the region and often stir public debate. MORE MONEY FOR LAND The Gross family’s third-generation dairy farm on 800 acres in northwest Isabella County near . . .
  • Sidney Township approves restrictive wind ordinance
    SIDNEY TOWNSHIP – Dozens of Sidney Township residents and out-of-town visitors filed into the Sidney Township Hall on Monday night, anxious to see how the vote on the township’s proposed wind ordinance would play out. The 4-1 vote to approve the restrictive wind ordinance resulted in applause, cheers and a horn being blasted from the back of the room and the vocal majority of the attendees leaving satisfied; however, not everyone was happy with the outcome. The Sidney Township Board voted . . .
  • Supervisor: Township zoning might be necessary in wind farm talks
    STANTON TOWNSHIP – Township-wide zoning might be necessary to give the township more say over the direction of a wind farm project proposed in Adams and Stanton townships, Stanton Township Supervisor John Mattila said at Wednesday’s township board meeting. Stanton Township has been exploring a police power ordinance similar to that in place in Adams Township. The Circle Power project would include 12 575-foot turbines, four in Adams Township and eight in Stanton Township. It would meet Adams Township’s ordinance requirements, township . . .
  • New nonprofit formed to fight proposed turbine project
    At Wednesday night’s Stanton Township board meeting, the Guardians of the Keweenaw Ridge introduced themselves, and asked to play a role in shaping ordinances that would regulate a proposed wind farm development from Circle Power. Guardians member James Mihelcic says he is not opposed to alternative energy efforts at the residential level, such as solar panels or improved insulation, but commercial grade developments are a different matter. Mihelcic said Wednesday’s meeting was important to inform the board of the Guardians’ . . .
  • Stanton Twp. residents battle Circle Power
    Wind turbines remain a controversial topic at Wednesday’s Stanton Twp. Board meeting. The debate began three weeks ago when Stanton Twp. residents made their stance against wind farms firm and clear. Keeping that in mind, the board members were supposed to draft an ordinance that could address these concerns. However, after Wednesday’s meeting, the future became more unclear. In fact, heads shook and eyes rolled as Circle Power continued to push for wind farms in the township where residents have . . .
  • Citizens split on wind turbine plant in Montcalm County
    DOUGLASS, Mich. – It was a contentious Tuesday night in Montcalm County as property owners gathered in protest and in support regarding the possibility of a wind farm in their community. An open house was held by Apex Clean Energy at the Douglass Township Hall to share more information about the project. The company currently estimates that the wind farm it is developing would include 75 turbines that would then deliver power to the Michigan power grid, reducing the need to . . .
  • Circle Power weighs in on Stanton and Adams Townships
    Circle Power is a renewable energy company who plans to develop twelve wind turbines near Stanton and Adams townships in Houghton County. Chris Moore, the company’s Vice President, said there were many factors that brought them to the copper country. The line we interconnect with is owned by ATC, but the rules governing interconnection are by MISO. MISO has a very deliberate process that you are required to go through to be able to connect to the transmission line. And . . .
  • Montcalm Township Board members debate conflict of interest
    MONTCALM TOWNSHIP – When it comes to who is and isn’t allowed to speak on the subject of wind energy at the level of local government, the answer may not be as clear as expected. During the June 9 meeting of the Montcalm Township Board, Trustee Brian Cousineau made it clear he believes the township hasn’t done enough to address the topic of conflict of interest. “With all of this wind stuff, I think that we can’t be successful in our . . .
  • State tax tribunal rules DTE owed back taxes; Bloomfield, Sigel townships appealing decision
    When a Michigan Tax Tribunal reached a verdict in June about DTE’s wind turbine taxes in Bloomfield and Sigel townships, commissioners felt they did not lose, but did not win either. The tribunal ruled the county would have to pay back taxes at 6% interest for the years 2016 and 2017, since the ruling stated that DTE paid taxes at a higher rate than agreed upon. The county would have to pay between $60,000 and $70,000 for each of the . . .
  • Winfield Township planner clashes with audience over wind
    WINFIELD TOWNSHIP – A wind ordinance discussion was short-lived at the Winfield Township Planning Commission level Monday evening after one planner repeatedly clashed with audience members. An estimated 80 people packed into the small township hall in Amble to listen and voice their opinions on wind and solar ordinances during a standing-room-only meeting. Attendees stood up high on window ledges inside the hot and humid building and lined up out the door and down the ramp where loud traffic from M-46 . . .
  • Montcalm County planners voice concerns about Sidney Township’s proposed wind ordinance
    STANTON – Sidney Township’s proposed wind ordinance is “too restrictive” and might “put the township in jeopardy” according to one Montcalm County planning commissioner. The Montcalm County Planning Commission met on Monday afternoon for the first time since August 2020. The main items on the agenda were a review of Sidney Township’s proposed wind and solar ordinance. Of the seven planning commissioners present, only three (Chairman S. Michael Scott and planning commissioners John Johansen and Armon Withey) voiced comments on Sidney . . .
  • Pine Township residents voice concerns about ‘secretive’ wind surveys
    PINE TOWNSHIP – Of the 950 wind energy surveys sent out in the township, only 311 were returned, and multiple people say they never even received one. Meanwhile, the survey results will not be made public until at least mid-July. The survey contained 13 questions regarding wind turbines and Pine Township officials say they will use the feedback as they decide whether to amend the township’s wind energy ordinance which hasn’t been updated since 2016. The surveys were due back to . . .
  • State Tax Commission deals blow on wind turbine tax cash
    After years of litigation and appeals the State Tax Commission has ruled in favor of utilities regarding how wind turbines should be taxed. The decision, the first of many likely to follow, could cost local units of governments with wind farms millions of dollars in past and future revenues. Although the 158-page STC ruling was a case involving DTE and two Huron County townships, it could adversely impact a number of other counties, including Gratiot and Isabella. To cut legal . . .
  • Stanton Township holds public hearing on wind farm proposal
    STANTON TOWNSHIP – About 40 people attended a public meeting held by the Stanton Township board on a proposed wind farm Wednesday. Roughly 20 residents spoke. Most were opposed to the project by Royal Oak, Michigan-based Circle Energy, which would include four 575-foot turbines in Adams Township and eight in Stanton Township. Each person got three minutes to speak. Residents expressed concern about the noise and potential environmental impacts of operating the turbines, and of the turbines themselves once decommissioned. Many . . .
  • Pierson Township Board votes for 4x wind turbine setbacks
    PIERSON TOWNSHIP – Tuesday’s three-hour meeting of the Pierson Township Board began with a plea from the supervisor for civility. Exactly one minute later, the meeting devolved into shouting and interrupting from audience members. “Let’s have everyone treated with respect and dignity,” Supervisor Dan Buyze requested before the start of public comment. “You may hear things you don’t like, but we’re adults, not undisciplined 5-year-olds. We’ve had a few of those in the past (referring to the Pierson Township Planning Commission’s . . .
  • Maple Valley Township expands Planning Commission from 5 to 7 members
    MAPLE VALLEY TOWNSHIP – The Maple Valley Township Board added two new members to its Planning Commission at Monday evening’s meeting – as well as heard calls for the supervisor and a trustee to recuse themselves from a wind ordinance discussion. The Planning Commission is currently comprised of five members but the township ordinance calls for seven, which residents have been calling attention to in recent meetings, especially in light of the Planning Commission continuing to work on a new wind ordinance . . .
  • Stanton Township crafting new wind ordinance
    Stanton Township held a public hearing Wednesday night on a proposed wind farm, with most speaking out against the idea. Between there and neighboring Adams Township, Circle Power hopes to install a combined 12 turbines. Supervisor John Mattila says that a new ordinance is set to be drawn up thanks to feedback given at the meeting. He lays out the process going forward. Once we get an ordinance in place, we’ll have to introduce it. Then have another public hearing . . .
  • Community speaks against proposed wind farm
    The proposed wind farm project in Adams and Stanton Townships was the cause for a long public comment session at Tuesday’s Houghton County Board of Commissioners meeting. For one night at least, all input was negative. There were three main areas of concern. The first was economic. Nearby residents said that data they could find showed significant property value declines after wind farms have been installed. Second was health. Turbine rotors produce a unique sound that can be heard at . . .
  • Stanton Township leaders hear public comment on wind turbines
    With all members present Wednesday night, the Stanton Township Board heard the voices of its people and how they feel about bringing wind farming to the Copper Country. Each person was given three minutes to speak, and Wednesday evening a general consensus formed. Tourism, noise, and sleep. These were the main issues residents brought up. Everyone who spoke during public comments was in opposition to the turbines. Catherine Andrews, a former Stanton Township resident who now lives in Baraga County, . . .
  • Crystal debates renewable energy ordinance
    CRYSTAL TOWNSHIP – While multiple townships within Montcalm County are working on creating wind and solar energy ordinances, Crystal Township is taking a different route. The township has been told that Apex Clean Energy currently is not looking at Crystal for its proposed Montcalm Wind project; however, the majority of township officials also aren’t necessarily in a hurry to create any major restrictions against wind turbines at this time. The topic of renewable energy came up in Crystal last month when . . .
  • Montcalm Twp. Board OKs moratorium on wind projects
    MONTCALM TOWNSHIP – Following a public hearing that featured a near-constant theme of complaints from area residents over the prospect of wind turbines making their way to this township, a moratorium on any such developments was approved in unanimous fashion. Members of the Montcalm Township Board voted unanimously Wednesday evening to implement a six-month moratorium (through the establishment of a new, temporary ordinance) on the issuance of any zoning approvals, rezonings, permits, licenses or approvals for wind energy systems, effective the . . .
  • Wind project proposed in Adams, Stanton townships
    SOUTH RANGE – Adams and Stanton townships both have public meetings coming up on a proposed wind turbine project. Circle Power, a Royal Oak, Michigan-based company, is looking to build 12 wind turbines for the Scotia Wind project – four in Adams Township and eight in Stanton Township. The 575-foot turbines would be located on land owned by Lake Superior Timberlands. The turbines would be on a different location further back on the same property as an earlier project pursued by Farm . . .
  • Apex Clean Energy hosts first Montcalm Wind open house
    As people came and went from the open house, another group gathered in the parking lot of Pierson Township Hall on Cannonsville Road to wave signs reading “2 Tall, 2 Close, 2 Loud” and “Big Wind Go Home” at passing motorists. Protestors against Apex’s proposal included Mike and Robin Poulsen (the brother and sister-in-law of Steven and Jeanne Poulsen who were helping out inside at the open house). “I can’t change their minds because they’ve already signed, but I want to make sure there’s not going to be any more (lease-signers) than we already have,” Robin said. “I want to get the point across that these turbines are not safe for our health or welfare — nothing.”
  • Pierson Township Planning Commission hosts rowdy meeting on wind ordinance
    PIERSON TOWNSHIP – The Pierson Township Planning Commission voted 3-1 on Thursday to recommend the township board make several amendments to the township’s wind ordinance, including leaving wind turbine setbacks at four times the turbine height. The vote came after an hour and a half of public comment, the township supervisor threatening to have a sheriff’s deputy remove two audience members, and the Planning Commission chairman declaring with frustration that he was trying to do the best he could for just . . .
  • Douglass Township supervisor: ‘This township will not end up in court’ over wind ordinance
    DOUGLASS TOWNSHIP – After taking care of monthly township business Wednesday evening – which only took three minutes – the Douglass Township Board then heard more than an hour of public comment on the topic of wind turbines. The Douglass Township Planning Commission on May 20 voted 4-2 to send a so-called “Citizens Ordinance” to a public hearing on July 28, to be followed by a regular Planning Commission meeting at which commissioners may decide whether to recommend the restrictive wind turbine ordinance . . .
  • County planners approve site plans involving turbines, business expansions
    The Huron County Planning Commission passed a number of site plan reviews dealing with wind turbines and business expansions at its monthly meeting this week. The first plan had do with modifying the site plan for the Apple Blossom wind farm so that two of its turbines could operate at full power. Andrew Johnson, a representative for the wind farm, said they had gotten easements from neighboring property owners that would be affected by the turbine’s sound levels. Apple Blossom . . .
  • Apex Clean Energy talks wind turbine design goals
    Apex Clean Energy is committing to pursuing new technology that could greatly reduce blinking red lights on any wind turbines built in Montcalm County. Apex’s Senior Development Manager Albert Jongewaard announced during Tuesday evening’s virtual community meeting that Apex will be requesting permission from the Federal Aviation Administrator (FAA) to be allowed to use aircraft detection lighting system (ADLS) software on any turbines built in Montcalm County. The new technology allows blinking red lights to be turned off on turbines . . .
  • Passionate public hearing in the park
    SIDNEY TOWNSHIP – This township’s proposed wind ordinance appears to meet the wishes of the vocal majority in central Montcalm County. It also may be illegal. The Sidney Township Planning Commission heard 90 minutes of feedback Saturday afternoon at a public hearing attended by nearly 100 people in Sidney Memorial Park. The subject of the hearing was a proposed wind and solar energy ordinance, but wind dominated the discussion. The proposed ordinance can be read at sidneymi.org. Before Saturday’s meeting began, . . .
  • Eureka Township Planning Commission sends wind ordinance to lawyer
    EUREKA TOWNSHIP – As the topic of wind energy and potential construction of turbines has dominated local township meetings for the better part of seven months, one township has remained quiet on the issue – until now. During Wednesday evening’s meeting of the Eureka Township Planning Commission, a public hearing was held on a draft of amendments to “Ordinance 79,” which is the township’s zoning ordinance. The 251-page document contains all of the township’s zoning laws, from establishing various zoning districts while . . .
  • Pierson Township Board to leave Planning Commission seat empty until after wind ordinance is finalized
    PIERSON TOWNSHIP – The Pierson Township Board has a vacancy on its Planning Commission and they are leaving it that way until after the township’s wind ordinance is finalized. During Tuesday’s township board meeting, Supervisor Dan Buyze reported that Janet Moore, who is a current member of the township’s Parks & Rec Board, has expressed an interest in filling a vacancy on the Planning Commission, which was created with the resignation of Dave Johnson, who hasn’t attended a Planning Commission meeting . . .
  • Douglass Township Planning Commission sends ‘Citizens Ordinance’ to public hearing
    DOUGLASS TOWNSHIP – After repealing a wind energy ordinance to avoid a voter referendum, the township may be headed to a referendum anyway. The Douglass Township Planning Commission voted 4-2 on Monday evening to send a “Citizens Ordinance” (see accompanying info box) to a public hearing at 7 p.m. on July 28, to be followed by a regular Planning Commission meeting at which commissioners may decide whether to recommend the proposed ordinance to the Douglass Township Board. Planning Commissioners Rick Baldwin, . . .
  • Apex Clean Energy official accuses Sidney Township officials of collusion
    SIDNEY TOWNSHIP – An Apex Clean Energy official is accusing Sidney Township officials of collusion after the township denied the majority of a Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) request from the wind developer. The Sidney Township Board met for a special meeting Tuesday afternoon to approve creating a FOIA policy – which it didn’t previously have on file – after a multi-part FOIA request from Apex. Apex Senior Development Manager Albert Jongewaard and this reporter were the only two people in attendance at . . .
  • Wind communities seek end to “bait and switch” on wind park taxes
    Republicans have introduced a new bill in the state Senate to stop what wind-rich communities are calling a “bait and switch” by utilities. Rick Sundquist is an attorney with Clark Hill. He represents a coalition of local governments in Huron, Gratiot, and Isabella counties, where Michigan’s wind parks are located. Sundquist says communities that agreed to let wind parks in did so based on a depreciation table established by the Michigan Tax Commission. The table told them how much tax . . .
  • Crystal Township Board revisits wind ordinance conversation
    CRYSTAL TOWNSHIP – Like many townships in Montcalm County, the Crystal Township Board is beginning the process of creating/updating a wind ordinance. The topic of renewable energy, both wind and solar, was broached by the Crystal Township Board during Wednesday’s meeting. The board briefly discussed creating a wind ordinance in township meetings over the past few months, but has not yet started drafting an ordinance. “Articles are in the Daily News every day about the wind ordinances that are happening or . . .