Residents: Put wind turbines to a vote

PI County residents seeking signatures to force ordinance onto ballot

AP Photo In this June 1, 2017 file photo, wind turbines, which are part of the Lost Creek Wind Farm, stand against the sky at dusk near King City, Mo. Residents of Presque Isle County’s Moltke Township have filed a notice of intent to file a petition that would force ordinance changes related to wind turbines onto a ballot.

Rogers City — Two residents of Moltke Township have presented the Presque Isle County clerk with a notice of intent to file a petition that would force recent ordinance changes related to wind turbines onto a ballot.

The petition is in regards to the Presque Isle County Ordinance 2 of 2018, which addresses zoning issues, particularly the installation of wind turbines. Recent changes to the zoning ordinance were approved at the Oct.10 county Board of Commissioners meeting, after a public hearing in Moltke Township.

In an email to The Alpena News, Moltke Township resident Stefani Schulte laid out their intentions with the notice of intent they filed.

“This requests the ordinance be placed on the ballot at the next regularly scheduled election,” Schulte said, “allowing all the registered voters of Presque Isle the opportunity to educate and then vote on whether the ordinance at large is protective and acceptable.”

Planning Commissioner Michael Libby said at the Oct. 10 meeting that the updates included definitions about turbines, exact zoning districts, setbacks, noise levels, potential abandonment of the turbine, and a variety of other zoning issues related to installation of the turbines.

At the meeting, county board Chairman Carl Altman said the changes were made to provide some restrictions instead of leaving the ordinance open-ended.

“I mean, to leave it the way it was was pretty general, and they could probably be able to come in and do anything they wanted,” Altman said at that meeting. “So, this does offer some restrictions.”

However, Stefani and Michael Schulte have not been satisfied with those changes and Michael Schulte filed the notice of intent to petition.

All of their efforts have been guided by legal counsel, with more than $2,000 paid out of pocket.

The Schultes feel vulnerable because they claim they were not included in any of the discussions about potential turbines on properties neighboring theirs. The land to which the turbine operators would be given access is known as the utilities easement, and it runs directly through the Schultes’ land. They have said that, if the energy companies use the easement, it would destroy the land where they graze cattle.

Now, the Schultes must gather enough signatures for the petition, just one of the hurdles they must overcome to reach their desired outcome. Stefani Schulte said they need to obtain signatures from 10 percent of the total number of county voters who cast a ballot in the last major election.

According to the Presque Isle County clerk’s website, in the general election of 2016, there were 10,896 registered voters, with 7,375 cards cast, which would mean just under 740 signatures are needed.

“Our only hope is that, one –we get the needed signatures on a petition,” Schulte said in the email to The News. “Two — we can get it on the ballot; three — the people vote it down; and four — then we begin the process of enacting an ordinance that IS protective and in the best interests of the ‘health, safety, and welfare of the residents and property owners.'”

County Clerk Ann Marie Main accepted the notice of intent on Tuesday, and said it was allowed under Section 125.3402 of the Michigan Compiled Laws. She said it was the first notice of intent she has received.

“We have begun an all-out effort to spread the news and the petitions and have found some support among two local businesses willing to hold petitions and offer opportunities for registered voters in their perspective townships to sign,” Schulte reported in her email. “Miracles do still happen, don’t they?”

For more information about the petition, contact turbinepetitionmoltke@gmail.com.

Kaitlin Ryan can be reached at kryan@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 989-358-5693.


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