2017-03-16 / Front Page

Commissioners eye solar moratorium

By Kelly Krager
Editor • kkrager@mihomepaper.com • 989-269-9918

HURON COUNTY — After watching the county become divided by wind, the Huron County Board of Commissioners is taking action to ensure the green energy industry does not fuel resident anger.

Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday morning to ask the Huron County Planning Commission to explore a moratorium on the issuance of permits, licenses or approvals for commercial solar energy systems.

“We would like to take an opportunity to make sure that if this does come to fruition in Huron County, it is done correctly, or as correctly as we can,” Steve Vaughan said.

The county’s zoning ordinance currently does not address commercial solar energy, and commissioners agreed it is in the public’s best interest to ensure such projects do not jeopardize the health and welfare of residents or damage property values.

Commissioners began expressing concerns about commercial wind parks after Building and Zoning Director Jeff Smith told them during a meeting in January that an Arizona-based solar energy company is looking at Huron County as another resource for renewable energy. He said Cyprus Creek Renewables has requested the county look at devising an ordinance amendment regarding large-scale solar energy farms.

Smith also said his office has received a number of calls from county residents, and in some cases attorneys retained by landowners, who have been contacted by Cyprus Creek representatives.

“Cyprus Creek has sent out letters of intent to land owners in areas where they’re close to the transmission line or the sub-transmission line or certain feature within our county near our grid system,” he said.

The locations in which the company has shown interest are all 30 or more acres, he said. He added residents who have contacted his office seem interested in the idea, as the letters of intent state the company is offering up to $800 per acre for 20 years.

Smith said the county’s ordinance mentions alternative-energy resources, but the references do not specifically apply to solar, which is something Cyprus Creek would like the county to clarify.

In other business during Tuesday’s board meeting, commissioners:

• Purchased two defibrillators for the Port Austin and Caseville meal sites, at a cost of $3,635.

• Approved a contract with Wade Mazure to complete 2017 commercial, agricultural and residential appraisal studies, at a cost not to exceed $40,000.

• Approved a contract with White Oak Appraisal Consultants to complete 2017 industrial appraisal studies, at a cost not to exceed $6,600.

• Authorized the county clerk to advertise for vacancies on the Health Board and Zoning Board of Appeals, with an application deadline of 5 p.m. on April 14.

• Accepted the resignation of Brenda Stomack from the position of Family Court clerk, with regret.

• Accepted the retirement of Mary Jo Risch from the position of court reporter, with regret.

• Accepted the retirement of Donna Inda from the position of deputy treasurer, with regret.

• Held two closed sessions with corporation council. First, to discuss a dispute with an employee about the interpretation of the collective bargaining agreement. Second, to discuss settlement or trial strategy, as an open meeting would have a detrimental effect on the county’s position.

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