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Published: Thursday, 7/7/2011 - Updated: 3 years ago

Riga Township OKs plan for wind turbines

Board clears way for 493-foot towers

BY TRACI TILLMAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Hundreds of citizens listen to the discussion at the American Legion Post. Wind-power advocates maintain the turbines will bring cash to Riga Township, but residents fear the impact the turbines will have on their community. Hundreds of citizens listen to the discussion at the American Legion Post. Wind-power advocates maintain the turbines will bring cash to Riga Township, but residents fear the impact the turbines will have on their community.
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BLISSFIELD, Mich. -- The Riga Township Board Wednesday approved a zoning ordinance proposed by the Planning Commission with only two changes, setting the standard for three other Lenawee County townships in which wind-power developers hope to set up 200 wind turbines.

The new ordinance -- with its alterations affecting signal disturbance and setback distance -- was approved by four of the five board members Wednesday night.

Board treasurer Richard Beagle abstained from voting, citing a "conflict of interest."

After hearing two hours of public opinion about preferred turbine regulations, the board announced two changes to the ordinance to a crowd of 500 Riga citizens, wind-power representatives, and other interest groups.

The first alteration requires studies to be conducted on the turbines' potential impact on television and radio signals.

Palmyra, Ogden, and Fairfield Townships are also weighing the pros and cons of having the wind turbines on their land.

Many of the turbines under consideration are Danish-built Vestas V100 models that stand 493 feet tall -- 80 feet taller than downtown Toledo's highest building.

Wind-power developers have promised the turbines will be a huge cash infusion into the townships, but many residents were against the development -- citing noise as their primary concern.

During the meeting, WLMB TV 40 Toledo President and CEO Jamey Schmitz voiced concerns that the turbines might disrupt existing telephone, microwave, navigational, or radio reception that local television and radio stations depend on to reach viewers.

He suggested that the township require third-party professionals conduct studies and produce a report on the likelihood of signal disruption from the turbines in order to prevent broadcast signal degradation.

The board incorporated the suggestion in the new ordinance.

"We're very please broadcasters were well represented," Mr. Schmitz said. "We'll go to each township to continue to present."

The board also decided that setback distances from the turbines to nonparticipating properties would be measured from the property line. The previous proposal required measurements to start from the property's "principal inhabited structure."

Riga Township Board members discuss a zoning ordinance governing wind turbines before the vote. The board approved the ordinance recommended by the Planning Commission with small changes. Riga Township Board members discuss a zoning ordinance governing wind turbines before the vote. The board approved the ordinance recommended by the Planning Commission with small changes.
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Before the board took a final vote, Supervisor Jefferee Simon suggested that the turbines be set back from properties a distance that measures 1.1 times the height of the turbines.

But the energetic crowd responded to the suggestions with boos and the chant "recall, recall."

Mr. Simon's suggestion was not incorporated into the ordinance, pleasing many attendees.

"I think it [the ordinance] will be all right. I'm satisfied," said Linette Van Camp, one of many Interstate Informed Citizens Coalition, Inc. members in attendance.

"I think it could have been better but at least it didn't get worse," Ms. Van Camp said.


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