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Township solar project

EDITOR:

To the concerned citizens of Escanaba Township and those interested in the area’s solar project.

Solar is a good thing! It lowers or levels off growing electric rates, offers jobs, raises tax revenues, which will help various entities.

Delta County, blessed with resources for wind and solar could be the power house for the Upper Peninsula. The Garden Peninsula in Delta County is the best area for wind power production on the Great Lakes. Escanaba Township is the best area for solar.

However, the Escanaba Township Board (ETB) is delaying this fruitful project from happening. Orion (solar developer) has tried greatly to appease them.

In February 2019 the ETB approved a standalone solar ordinance, as requested by Orion. In June 2019 the ETB submitted this to the ETB’s attorney for review because Orion was in the process of applying for a solar permit. ETB’s attorney recommended that it should be an amendment to the Escanaba Township Zoning Ordinance of 1976, and not a stand alone ordinance.

In July 2019 when a public hearing was held to make the stand alone solar ordinance an amendment, local citizens wanted an ADHOC committee be formed to address there concerns.

In March 2020, ADHOC findings, it was shown that solar was a safe, viable project. The concerned citizens rejected this with heavy pressure and intimidation, thus causing resignations from the Planning and Zoning Commission. These positions were then filled with “solar opposing people”

These delays create a concern on the solar project. All could have been completed the summer of 2019 when the approved solar ordinance only needed to be amended to the Zoning Ordinance. The amendment has never been approved, the ETB refused to talk of the solar at the December’s meeting.

Because the ETB is holding the landowners hostage, and preventing legal usage of their own property as desired, the landowners are looking for alternatives, such as annexation.

Perhaps the ETB is influenced by some Flat Rock residents, who have disdain for others property rights. When annexing was mentioned at the meeting (12-14-2020) It was intriguing that a board member suggested they seek a municipal lawyer to stop annexation. Previous meeting comments had claimed too much money was being spent on legal counsel already.

Property owners are merely seeking relief from the Escanaba Township’s governance that is holding their property hostage. Property owners who are contracted for a potential solar farm are not being allowed to move forward with this solar project. The property taxes are being paid to fill the township coffers, which are then used to stop legal use of their own property for a solar farm.

Elected officials take the oath of office to uphold the U.S. and Michigan Constitutions for the betterment of all citizens.

Hopefully, this will clarify any questions the reader may have. Thank you for your concern.

Patty Lancour

Gladstone

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