PLYMOUTH - The wind blowing across Marshall County will have to wait at least until May to be harnessed as the Marshall County Commissioners tabled action on zoning changes related to wind farms on Monday morning.
Suggestions for amendments to Marshall County’s zoning ordinance regarding wind energy “farms” have made their way from the Marshall County Plan Commission to the final vote in any change to to county zoning the Marshall County Commissioners. Those proposing change made their case before the Commissioners on Monday.
Steve Snyder of Snyder/Morgan LLP made the case for those who are seeking stricter standards regarding the placement and operation of wind energy farms in Marshall County. The group is seeking standards for setbacks, and standards of operation that they say will better protect the safety and health of residents of Marshall County as well as the environment near the farms.
They cite serious health and environmental concerns at the base of their suggestions.
After a contentious meeting of the Marshall Count Plan Commission late last month the body made recommendations to the Commissioners that included a 2,640 foot setback from any property boundary that is zoned L-1 or T-1 (residential and town properties), from a non-participating (in the wind farm) property, and from the boundary of any public park, public or private school and from any river.
The suggestions also included an operation noise level that did not exceed 45 dBA within 100 feet of any off site dwelling at any time and that all systems be equipped with state of the art anti-icing technology to suspend all turbine operations during icing events.
They also included a site plan with aerial photography, elevations, facades, heights and dimensions of all structures and specific descriptions of the colors of all exterior materials.
Those from Concerned Citizens of Marshall County do not feel these restrictions are enough and want several other restrictions added to the ones already suggested by the Plan Commission including a three mile setback from all fresh water lakes and a 2,640 foot setback from any recognized wetland or nature preserve.
Stan Klotz of the Marshall County Plan Commission told the Commissioners that the 2,640 setback was important to him feeling that it was essential for safety of county residents and was the reason for the contentious meeting of his board late last month who passed the increased setback distances.
Several residents of the county spoke in favor of the further restrictions, Carol Zeglis of Culver saying that “...no individual has an absolute right to do whatever they want with their own property even farmers...” citing that overriding concerns would be those for public health.
Others cited reasons ranging from migratory birds to the beauty of the night sky.
The Commissioners accepted all information from the Plan Commission and from Concerned Citizens and will address the issue at their meeting on May 6.