- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 9, 2014

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - An appeals court ruling has removed a key legal hurdle to a proposed $120 million wind power project in rural Clinton County.

The Lansing State Journal reports (https://on.lsj.com/1AawDLt ) the boards of Dallas, Essex and Bengal townships have called a special joint meeting Thursday to consider options in their two-year effort to block or downsize Forest Hill Energy’s proposed 39-turbine project.

Last week, the Michigan Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling that invalidated restrictive ordinances the townships enacted in 2012. The panel agreed the project is governed by the county’s zoning ordinance, which commissioners passed in 2011.

In an effort to block the project, each township passed nearly identical police-protective ordinances restricting height, setback, noise or other elements of the wind farm. The appeals court says townships are instead permitted to adopt zoning ordinances in such cases.

Bill Fahey, one of the lawyers who has represented the townships, says the township boards are likely to discuss their options in closed session on Thursday night at the Bengal Township Hall and then announce a course of action in an open meeting.

Fahey says the townships could appeal, consider other ordinances that might restrict wind farms or decide to drop their resistance to the project.

Lawyer Jon Bylsma, who represents Forest Hill Energy, says he’s pleased that the appeals court ruled that the project is “in the purview of the county zoning ordinance and is not something local townships … can now jump in on and try to prevent.”


Information from: Lansing State Journal, https://www.lansingstatejournal.com

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