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YIR: Wind turbine project draws pushback

ADAMS-STANTON TOWNSHIPS — A proposed wind farm in Adams and Stanton Townships drew pushback from residents in both townships throughout 2021.

Circle Power announced plans to build 12 575-foot wind turbines near Whealkate Bluff, on the border between the townships. Original plans called for four to be located in Adams and eight in Stanton.

Unlike an unsuccessful project pursued by Farm Wind Energy in 2015, the project met Adams township’s existing ordinance on wind. Those requirements included a 55-decibel limit at the nearest property line and a 3,000-foot setback.

Circle Power cited benefits to the townships, including property tax payments and short-term job creation. It would also reduce the cost of power provided to UPPCO, which could then pass the savings on to customers, Circle Power partner Chris Moore said.

A group of residents, Guardians of the Keweenaw Ridge, formed to oppose the project. Members said they feared the potential downturn in property values, tourism and recreational access, as well as the potential annoyance of things such as turbine noise and flicker effect from the turbines.

Both township boards passed moratoriums on granting permits to commercial wind projects. Stanton Township passed a nine-month moratorium in August, while Adams Township followed suit with that month with a six-month halt.

Adams Township also used the pause to reconstitute its planning commission, a prerequisite for passing a new zoning ordinance. Having such an ordinance would provide greater regulatory power than the township’s police power ordinance, which only allowed it to regulate things such as setback.

Adams Township introduced the draft ordinance at its first meeting in January.

In October, Stanton Township announced 83% of residents who responded to a township survey were against the wind project.

Earlier that month, Circle Power amended the project to place all 12 turbines in Adams Township. It was anticipated Stanton Township would enact a similar 3,000-foot setback as Adams Township, which would make the previously planned locations infeasible, Circle Power partner Chris Moore said.

After more than 90 Stanton Township residents signed a petition, the creation of a township planning commission will instead be decided by a township-wide referendum in May.

Circle Power ran into another hurdle when its wetlands permit request was denied by the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE). It cited the potential harm to natural resources and animals such as northern long-eared bats and bald eagles. Circle Power continued to meet with U.S. Fish & Wildlife to discuss the project.

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