DEERFIELD, Mich. – The House Committee on Energy, Communications, and Technology passed House Bills 5120, 5121, 5122 and 5123, which will strip away local control of zoning for utility scale wind and solar projects – taking critical zoning decisions out of the hands of local zoning boards and allowing them to be determined by the Michigan Public Service Commission in Lansing. The bills now head to the House floor.
Representative Pauline Wendzel (R), Representative Pat Outman (R) and Representative David Prestin (R) attempted to pass amendments to these bills in order to maintain zoning control at the local level. The amendments failed. Other amendments to the bills were added, however they do not restore local control.
“Those of us that have been involved in the zoning process are amazed the committee could consider adopting what amounts to a statewide zoning ordinance with only two hearings in seven days’ time,” said Kevon Martis, co-founder of Our Home, Our Voice, Inc. “This is an extremely complex issue that requires the due-diligence of legislators to understand what is best for our state and their local communities rather than toeing the party line. Blocking the voices of stakeholders and community involvement in this process has been evident and is detrimental for Michigan.”
Our Home, Our Voice Inc. is continuing its fight to stop the legislation and urges legislators to vote no on these outrageous bills as they head for a vote on the House floor. Stripping away local control on land use authority for nearly all utility scale renewable energy development and turning it over to the MPSC is not the answer to making Michigan more green.
“We will continue to advocate for the authority to make important zoning decisions at the local level, asserting that effective zoning should be crafted by communities not developers. The fight is not over,” said Our Home, Our Voice spokesperson Kevon Martis following the committee hearing.
During committee, Martis shared his concerns with the lack of research that went into crafting these bills, “Take a look at what the wind section alone is missing. There is no mention of protecting avian species in the bill, yet the fish and wildlife service and many other entities recommend a five mile setback for wind turbines from [the] Great Lakes’ shoreline to protect birds and migratory raptors. Wind turbines are the number one cause of bat deaths in the United States. The solution is [that] you raise the cut in speed for wind turbines to six-and-a-half meters per second, [with] ninety percent reduction and kill rate, [but] the bill is silent on this too. Also, on dark sky and light pollution, the FAA approved radar detection for airplanes to allow flashing red lights to be off till a plane approaches, protecting our dark sky, protecting our environment, until there’s a need for airplanes to see them for protection. The bill is silent on this too.”
Our Home, Our Voice Inc. is a grassroots coalition of county and township officials and community organizers throughout Michigan, advocating to maintain local control of land use by promoting reasonable regulation in their widely diverse communities. They believe an important tool for protecting their home from special interests is the continued ability to enact and maintain local land use regulation. Currently, they have active supporters in 45 counties across the state.
Learn more about Our Home, Our Voice Inc. by visiting: www.ourhomeourvoice.org