Commission OKs wind turbine permits

ESCANABA — A lengthy process came to an end with the Delta County Planning Commission’s approval of conditional use permits for 14 proposed wind turbine site plans during its regular meeting Monday.

In October 2017, the Delta County Building and Zoning Department received an application from Heritage Sustainable Energy for an addition to its existing wind farm on the Garden Peninsula.

The initial application included 40 site plans for new wind turbines. Based on feedback from residents during earlier planning commission meetings, Heritage chose to eliminate four turbines from the project.

In a special meeting in January, the commission reviewed the county’s ordinance on wind turbines and approved 22 of the proposed wind turbine site plans. Due to concerns related to shadow flicker, noise, environmental impact, and setbacks, the commission agreed to continue discussion on the remaining site plans at its next regular meeting.

During Monday’s meeting, Commissioner David Moyle said it was important the commission vote be based on whether or not the proposed site plans were in line with the county’s ordinance on wind turbines as it stands.

“My question to you is: has Heritage met their requirements and their obligations to move forward with their applications?” he asked. Moyle also noted he felt denying proposals n line with the county’s ordinance could create legal issues for the county.

Planning Commissioner Christine Williams said she had some concerns related to the remaining site plans. She said while Heritage provided an analysis of the impact its existing turbines in the area have had on bats and birds, these turbines are not as high as the new turbines it plans to install on the Garden Peninsula.

“These turbines are taller — there’s no data that supports the claim that they’re not (going to) have more impact on bats and birds,” she said.

With the exception of Williams, the commission voted in favor of approving conditional use permits for the remaining wind turbine site plans Monday. Conditional use permits for sites with the turbine IDs A1-13, A1-20, A1-35, A2-02, B1-11, B1-20, B3-14, B3-19, C2-15, C4-18, C4-30, D1-10, D2-18, and D4-19 were approved.

After the vote was taken, supporters of the project applauded and Planning Commission Chair Benny Herioux said he was grateful to the people involved with the process.

“I want to thank (you) all for your patience,” he said.

Heritage Chief Executive Marty Lagina, who was in attendance at Monday’s meeting, said he appreciated the commission’s efforts.

“I just want to thank this board — not for your vote tonight, but for the countless hours you all put in on this process,” he said.

In other business, the commission:

– agreed to have Delta County Building and Zoning Administrator Dan Menacher ask Wells Township property owner Nevin Naser’s neighbor for input before they take a vote on additional setbacks for Naser’s property.

– approved a district change from RP to R-2 on a Brampton-area parcel. This was done so property owners Lyle and Debra Martin could divide the parcel into three parcels and build on the two smaller parcels.

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