Hitting pause: Adams Township adopts six-month wind, solar moratorium

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Adams Township Supervisor Gerald Heikkinen reads from a resolution imposing a six-month moratorium on approving applications for commercial wind and solar projects in the township. The township board unanimously approved the moratorium Wednesday.

ADAMS TOWNSHIP — The Adams Township Board voted unanimously to impose a six-month moratorium on approving applications for commercial wind and solar projects Wednesday.

Supervisor Gerald Heikkinen said the board would take the time to find more information about renewable power.

“I know everybody in this room is probably against it, but there are still people that are for it, so we have to take the middle of the road,” he said. ”

The township is one of the proposed locations for 12 575-foot wind turbines being constructed by Circle Power near Whealkate Bluff — four in Adams Township, eight in Stanton Township.

Earlier this month, the Stanton Township Board passed a nine-month moratorium. The six months in Adams Township was recommended by township attorney Kevin Mackey, who said it was the longest moratorium he could find that had held up in court.

“We’re disappointed with the moratorium but we welcome the opportunity to educate the board members about why we think this is a good thing for the township, the county and the region,” said Chris Moore, partner with Circle Power.

Adams Township has a police powers ordinance in place allowing it to restrict things like setback for wind turbines. Both townships are exploring zoning ordinances that would allow them to pass more binding regulations.

Adams Township is looking to find documentation of its planning commission to determine how it would be reconstituted. It had been active as recently as 2009, Heikkinen said.

“In the end, if it turned out where in Adams Township, 90% of the people don’t want (the turbines), if we have that vote, then from what I understand you can do some type of zoning,” he said.

Charles Markham, president of Guardians of the Keweenaw Ridge, a citizens’ group formed in opposition to the project, said he was “ecstatic” about the moratorium.

“This is what we wanted,” he said. “They waited until Stanton did theirs, and checked all the legalities, and they’re good to go.”

Markham said the group would use the extra time to continue campaigning and providing information on wind power to area residents. Stanton Township is sending surveys to every registered voter; Supervisor Marty Rajala has said he will use the results to determine the township’s course.

“Even though we’re against it, it doesn’t mean everybody’s against it, so we want to see what the community thinks,” he said. “We’re thinking that nobody’s going to benefit except Circle Power, so I would assume that would go in our favor.”

The project is also seeing delays as the result of a wetlands permit denial by the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE), which cited the potential harm to natural resources and animals such as northern long-eared bats and bald eagles.

Moore said Circle Power has not filed an appeal, but will be talking with U.S. Fish & Wildlife, which had raised concerns about the effects of wildlife, to show the results of field studies Moore said will show the project is low-risk.

The township board’s next meeting will be on Sept. 13.


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