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

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    FIRST SNOW—Heavy, wet flakes piled deep on tree branches—and windshields—as the area received its first significant snowfall of the season. “Usually it begins with a dusting or two,” said George Isobar, Morenci’s observer for the National Weather Service, “but this time it came with a vengeance.” By the end of the day Saturday, a little over four inches of snow was on the ground. Now comes the thaw with temperatures in the 40s and 50s for three days.
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    SKEWERS, gumdrops, and marshmallows are all that’s needed to create interesting shapes and designs for Layla McDowell Saturday at Stair District Library’s “Sculptamania!” Open House. The program featuring design games and materials is one part of a larger project funded by a $7,500 Curiosity Creates grant from Disney and the American Library Association. Additional photos are on page 7.
    Morenci marching band members took to the field Friday night dressed for Halloween during the Bulldog’s first playoff game. Morenci fans had a bit of a scare until the fourth quarter when the Bulldogs scored 30 points to leave Lenawee Christian School behind. Whiteford visits Morenci this Friday for the district championship game. From the left is Clayton Borton, Morgan Merillat and James O’Brien.
    DNA PUZZLE—Mitchell Storrs and Wyatt Mohr tackle a puzzle representing the structure of DNA. There’s only one correct way for all the pieces to fit. It’s one of the new materials that can be used in both biology and chemistry classes, said teacher Loretta Cox.
  • Front.tar.wide
    A TRAFFIC control worker stands in the middle of Morenci’s Main Street Tuesday morning, waiting for the next flow of vehicles to be let through from the west. The dusty gravel surface was sealed with a layer of tar, leaving only the application of paint for new striping. The project was completed in conjunction with county road commission work west of Morenci.
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    JUNIORS Jazmin Smith and Trevor Corkle struggle against a team from the sophomore class Friday during the annual tug of war at the Homecoming Games pep rally. Even the seniors struggled against the sophomores who won the competition. At the main course of the day, the Bulldog football team struggled against Whiteford in a homecoming loss.
    YOUNG soccer players surived a chilly morning Saturday in Morenci’s PTO league. From the left is Emma Cordts, Wayne Corser, Carter and Levi Seitz, Briella York and Drew Joughin. Two more weeks of soccer remain for this season.
  • Front.ropes
    BOWEN BAUMGARTNER of Morenci makes his way across a rope bridge constructed by the Tecumseh Boy Scout troop Sunday at Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The bridge was one of many challenges, displays and games set up for the annual Youth Jamboree by the Michigan DNR. Additional photos on are the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.homecoming Court
    One of four senior candidates will be crowned the fall homecoming queen during half-time of this week’s Morenci-Whiteford football game. In the back row (left to right) is exchange student Kinga Vidor (her escort will be Caylob Alcock), seniors Alli VanBrandt (escorted by Sam Cool), Larissa Elliott (escorted by Clayton Borton), Samantha Wright (escorted by JJ Elarton) and Justis McCowan (escorted by Austin Gilson), and exchange student Rebecca Rosenberger (escorted by Garrett Smith). Front row freshman court member Allie Kaiser (escorted by Anthony Thomas), sophomore Marlee Blaker (escorted by Nate Elarton) and junior Cheyenne Stone (escorted by Dominick Sell).
  • Front.park.lights
    GETTING READY—Jerad Gleckler pounds nails to secure a string of holiday lights on the side of the Wakefield Park concession stand while other members of the Volunteer Club and others hold them in place. The volunteers showed up Sunday afternoon to string lights at the park. The decorating project will continue this Sunday. Denise Walsh is in charge of the effort this year.
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Seneca board approves wind turbine ordinance 2012.03.21

Written 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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