Flier sent by group opposing wind turbines in Monitor Township depicts wind farm near Bay Port.
TOO TALL, TOO CLOSE, TOO LOUD: Windmill Controversy Arises in Monitor
June 17, 2018
By: Dave Rogers
(UPDATE: The Monitor Township Board Monday night enacted a moratorium on further windmill installations and referred the matter to the planning commission which meets in August. An estimated 400 persons attended the board meeting.)
The Monitor Township board meeting at 7 p.m. on Monday, June 25, promises to be a windy one from several aspects.
Residents opposed to the Detroit Edison proposal to erect windmills in the township are banding together under the GLBR-SOS citizen's coalition which has scattered signs stating: "Too Tall, Too Close, Too Loud."
The group's website, glbrsos.com states: "There's no doubt energy production is critical, however, the cost of wind energy, the limited amount of energy that wind turbines produce, the short lifespan of turbines, and the burden to small communities from a visual, health, safety, and noise perspective, is not worth the limited production of energy being offered.
"In addition, energy companies pay a select few large landowners to locate wind turbines on their property. But others closest to the turbines and whose property may abut a turbine get no benefit.
"In short, there is nothing like establishing wind farms to divide small communities."
More than 250 landowners in Bay County have signed on for wind energy, which equates to 28,000 acres, said Matt Wagner, manager of renewable energy for DTE.
He said a big push of opposition comes from outside the community such as opposition groups that try to convince residents that renewable energy is not good for the community.
"These are things that happen in communities, and our intention is to stay the course and we're going to continue to build a network of informed landowners, residents, and stakeholders who support wind energy," Wagner said.
DTE is still exploring other municipalities in Bay County for opportunities to start a wind farm, Wagner said. The company plans to install 50-60 turbines in Bay County, Wagner said.
Beaver Township, a community of about 3,000 in northern Bay County, has passed an ordinance with noise limits so low it essentially rules out any windmill installation.
"The safety welfare and well being of the community has to be my first concern," said Beaver Township Supervisor Steve Gray.
The opposition group also asserts: " Monitor Township has moved a step closer to passing an ordinance that allows wind turbines to locate dangerously near homes.
"On June 5, the Planning Commission discussed an ordinance that included regulations about wind energy. During the meeting, officials consulted frequently with a DTE representative about how to write the ordinance in a way that best meets the needs of the big energy company. A member of the community stood up and suggested that the board delay the vote so the people who live in Monitor Township could also comment on what best meets their needs. Initially, the Planning Commission agreed to delay the vote for a month. The community members who made the suggestion then left the meeting.
"There is some confusion about what happened next. According to some the commission rescinded the vote delaying action. and the Planning Commission voted to forward the ordinance to the full board and recommended it be approved on June 25. We are hoping that once the meeting minutes are released there will be some clarification on what exactly happened.
"One of the GLBR-SOS's most strongly-held beliefs is that the people who live in a community deserve the opportunity to voice their opinions to their elected officials. No matter what happened at the planning meeting the Monitor Township Board needs to hear their citizens? concerns on June 25th.
"More importantly, we at the GLBR-SOS strongly believe that the language in the recommended ordinance does little to protect your health and safety. The ordinance allows turbines to locate 750 feet from the road. The noise restrictions are inadequate. If this ordinance passes, your property values will significantly drop. Many studies show the wind turbines cause discomfort and illness for people living in nearby homes."
A mailing from the group, urging attendance at the June 25 Monitor Township meeting, states: "Big utility companies are lobbying to build huge wind turbines near our homes in Bay and Midland counties.
"In other communities, people living and working near wind turbines have reported that the machines have hurt their health, safety, and welfare. Significant evidence exists that wind turbines are not the best choice for us:
*Turbines have been known to reduce property values for at least a half-mile radius. Even vacant residential land can be reduced in value by 19% to 40% when wind turbines are near;
*Energy companies pay a select few large landowners to locate wind turbines on their property. Often, those closest to the turbines experience all of the problems and receive none of the benefits. In the end, these wind farms cause division in our communities;
*Established wind farms have disrupted well water supplies. Well owners report visible dirt in drinking water from wells near the wind turbines."