The Weekly Newspaper serving the citizens of Morenci, Mich., Fayette, Ohio, and surrounding areas.

  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.carry.casket
    CARRYING—Riley Terry (blue jacket) and Mason Vaughn lead the way, carrying an empty casket outside to the hearse waiting at the curb. Morenci juniors and seniors visited Eagle Funeral Home last week to learn about the role of a funeral director and to understand the process of arranging for a funeral.
  • Front.lift
    MORENCI student Dalton McCowan puts everything into a dead lift attempt Saturday morning during the Wyseguy Push/Pull event. Lifters helped raise more than $1,600 for the family of the late Devin Wyse, a former Morenci power-lifter who graduated last year. Commemorative T-shirts are still available by contacting teacher Dan Hoffman.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.F.office
    NEW OFFICES—Fayette village administrator Steve Blue speaks with tax administrator Genna Biddix at the new front desk of the village office. Village council members voted to use budgeted renovation funds targeted for the old office and instead buy the vacant bank building on the corner of Main and Fayette streets. The old office was sold to Sherwood State Bank. When everything is put into place in the spacious new village office, an open house will be scheduled. Council member David Wheeler donated all of his time needed to make changes in the bank interior to fit the Village’s needs.

Seneca board approves wind turbine ordinance 2012.03.21

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Seneca Township board members unanimously approved an ordinance governing wind farm development last week, but within six days, notices were distributed to residents announcing plans for a referendum on the issue.

A letter signed by township residents Lori and Ron Glisson criticized the ordinance as unsafe and stated that a petition drive would soon get underway to place the issue on the ballot.

“Voters can then reject the ordinance, forcing it back to the board to be corrected,” the letter reads.

Chris White, a township board member who also serves on the planning commission, said the planning group had several meetings about the issue and received very little opinion from the public, either in support or in opposition.

Finally, at the group’s last meeting before a public hearing, commissioners did hear some opposition. Some good information was presented, White said, but it wasn’t of a nature that forced the board to start over with the ordinance.

“Our ordinance book is reviewed every two years,” he said, “and if new information develops, we’ll have the opportunity to amend it.”

On the other hand, White said he fully supports the referendum process if that’s what township residents want.

White said the planning commission was after a reasonable law that would allow development—giving property owners the right to use their land as they see fit—while protecting the safety of residents.

Commissioners reviewed several ordinances either in place or proposed in other townships and settled on Palmyra Township’s as a good model to follow.

White attended a presentation on the issue by MSU Extension and commissioners spent considerable time researching the issue. 

White said he doesn’t know of any developer interested in creating a wind farm in the township, but planners wanted to take a proactive approach and have an ordinance in place before any inquiries come in.

Limited space

Seneca Township has a rather limited amount of land available for wind farm development, White said, a fact confirmed by township resident Larry Gould, president of Great Lakes Wind.

The Seneca ordinance calls for a minimum setback from roads and property lines equal to three times the total height of the unit. This comes to 1,500 feet for an industrial turbine standing 500 feet into the air. Weston Road and a portion of Elliott Highway angle across the township, along with the railroad, which eliminates several sections of land. 

In addition, the portion of the township from Five Points (the intersection of Weston, Mulberry and Seneca) south to Morenci is zoned residential, where a wind farm is not allowed.

Several parcels have houses set back 800 or 900 feet from the road, White said. The setback requirement in those locations also wipes out many areas from development.

“There’s not a lot of land left,” Gould said. 

The crane rental to erect a turbine is very expensive, he said, and developers want a minimum of 25 to 30 turbines to make installation efficient. He doesn’t think there are enough suitable locations to reach that number.

“If you can’t get 25,” he said, “the township will never get a call.”

No matter how much suitable land exists, White said, there’s still a question about how many of those property owners would want to participate in a lease agreement with a wind company.

Gould said he’s taken farmers on tours to Paulding County where a 100-turbine wind farm is in operation.

“I want them to see what they’re in for,” he said.

They typically like the all-weather service drives that are installed because it gives heavy equipment a good route into fields.

Many in the agricultural community also like the farmland preservation aspect of a wind energy facility. If a 20-year lease is signed with a wind developer, he said, that land isn’t likely to be sold for residential use. In addition, farm use of the land continues around the turbines.

Gould said that Seneca Township is taking the right approach by putting an ordinance in place before residents could be influenced by a developer.

“Now developers can look at the ordinance and decide if they want to put up a tower,” he said.

Seneca’s ordinance addresses only industrial size turbines in an agricultural district, White said. In the future, he expects the planning commission to take a look a smaller units on residential land.

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