County committee takes no action on proposed wind ordinance moratorium

By Kayleigh Rahn
The Douglas County Board Plat and Planning Committee opted to take no action in a suggestion to instate an 18-month moratorium regarding wind farm applications, and specifically the proposed Broadland Wind Farm in the northeast corner of the county.

EDP Renewables has worked for nearly a decade to construct the wind farm. However, in recent months, they have been met with resistance from residents of the Newman area who say they could be directly or indirectly affected by the 200-megawatt, 60-turbine site.

Rural Neman resident Paul Freebairn has led the charge for residents against the wind farm who say the proposed infrastructure would infringe on their rights as landowners by causing harm to their health and detrimental decline in their real estate taxes.

In recent weeks, Freebairn submitted a petition including 90 signatures to the county board voicing their concerns of the project and requested the board consider a moratorium on accepting wind farm applications to allow time for the board to review and amend its wind energy ordinance. Freebairn requested the board to consider a 3,000-foot setback from a structure, rather than the current 1,000-foot set back, and a setback from the property line of 3 times the turbine tip height, rather than the current 1 times the turbine tip height.

However, the Plat and Planning Committee of the county board did not entertain the suggestion during its meeting Friday, July 6.

County Board chairman Don Munson said he’s spent a lot of time reviewing the submitted information from both sides of the issue, and he came to conclusion that in the name of fairness he could not support changing the ordinance at this point.

“I can honestly tell you I spent a lot of time going over all that information,” he said. “I am one of the three present board members that was on the board in 2009 when we enacted the ordinance that we are operating under now.”

He said after reviewing current wind energy systems ordinances from throughout state, he does not feel the Douglas County ordinance is lacking. The one significant difference is the topic of setback. Many ordinances require a 1,500-foot set back, while Douglas County’s is 1,000 feet.

The full story can be found in the Wednesday, July 11 edition of The Tuscola Journal.

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