On April 16, the North Branch Planning Commission voted for their draft wind turbine ordinance. Wind development would give a new steady revenue to farmers who have turbines on their property; as one young man stated, he wanted to harness this new crop and keep the farm solvent.
The meeting was well attended by the public and there was broad support for requirements on siting turbines that would allow wind development in North Branch, witnessed by the amount of speakers in favor and the response they received. Setbacks of 750 ft. are used around the state and would allow more farmers to participate and get the benefit from siting turbines. Unfortunately the Planning Commission chose more expansive setbacks of 1,200 ft. in what they stated was an attempt at compromise with those who on all fronts object to wind development. One farmer said this large setback kept 16 farms from being eligible to participate, if I recall the number correctly.
I would say the North Branch Planning Commission acted in a fearful manner, rather than in a responsible way. Several people stated thoughtfully that the commission’s job is to protect the safety of the community, not to make people happy. Now it’s up to the North Branch Township Board to either go with these very restrictive setbacks or alter them so that wind power can be a new crop in North Branch that the farming and overall community can harvest.
Let’s see some forward thinking rather than reactive fear-based decision making. Be brave and move forward North Branch Township.