The Township Board approved all of the Duke requests at the Monday night meeting. It was truly the worst meeting that I have ever attended. Not just because the outcome was not in our favor but many have described this meeting as a kangaroo court. John Burrell, the township Supervisor, did not participate as he has a lease with Duke for an easement. John has remained neutral and has never participated in discussions or votes on the wind issue. Andy Barnhart was the moderator for this meeting.
I will do my best to be as succinct as possible, will give you the facts, and if I give an opinion I will state it as such.
Writing for Save Reading for the past 2 years, I have tried to be objective, actually probably have been too fair to the supporters of the wind project. The supporters routinely minimize our opinions because we are either not born and raised in Reading Township, we are retired, we are elite or wealthy because we are all lake property owners, (which we are not), we have not sent our children to the Reading Public Schools, we do not belong to their church or the Chamber of Commerce, and we don’t volunteer for community activities. Even if any part of this was or is true, I do not believe that any of it is, it does not matter and should not matter to the board of trustees. Our opinion as residents, voters, and or taxpayers is as important whether we have lived here for 5 months, 5 years or 50 years.
Our petition to retain the current ordinance was signed by 570+ people! 62% of the signatories are taxpayers and or residents.
Thanks to the following people; Butch and Joan Moser, Craig Hughes, Jim Holdgreve, Kathy and Al Mikolajczyk, Bonnie Lewis, Gretchen Oberdick, John Abbey, Mary Cole, Pete Ronan, Werner Straub, Gary Glowski, Lois and Darrel Hutchinson, Jeff Gilmore, Jim and Lee Tonnies. I apologize if I have forgotten anyone. Getting signatures was hard work but actually fun, we met lots of new people and made some new friends.
Monday night however our efforts were totally ignored and questioned. The board summarily rejected our petition. It was uncanny to have Andy Barnhart ask “Where are all these 570 people, why aren’t’ they here?” He actually questioned me about how we were able to get all these signatures. He wanted to know if all of the signers were lake people and what information we shared with each of you when we asked if you would consider signing the petition. Who cares? The board of trustees should represent all township residents and taxpayers. Andy’s question is actually even worse than I made it sound. At the beginning of the meeting, Lou Burke presented what he stated were 300 more names for the Pro Duke changes petition that they had submitted at the July township board meeting. Lou Burke’s address is the address used for the PAC who sponsored the ‘Friends of Reading’ political signs. We, all of us, were singled out as “Where are the 570 people?” He sure did not ask Lou Burke about “Where are the 300 people?” As a side note, I picked up copies of the additional 300 names on their petition. There were 58 names not 300, 51 of which do not live or pay taxes in our township. That brings their petition total to 310 signatories with 34% being residents or taxpayers. Yet we were the ones questioned by Mr. Barnhart! Here is a link to a You Tube video of that portion of the meeting which shows his contempt towards our petition. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lq6AHckjjaM#t=3m
Andy also made a speech about the Planning Commission’s decision to use Sound Consultant, Rick James, in the preparation of the ordinance. During the ordinance preparation and study period, Gary Lovett, then Planning Commission Chair, asked the township board on numerous occasions to fund the consulting services of a sound consultant. This request was never acted upon so the Planning Commission sought out the counsel of Rick James as he was willing to help our township free of charge. Rick James’ work was disputed by Andy Barnhart and dismissed as hogwash (opinion again) as he was unable to find any pro wind writings by Rick James.
This tone continued until the meeting was adjourned just before 11:30. A long meeting makes for really long notes; I apologize for the length of this email but there are so many important items to share.
The township board hired the Spicer Group to review the application portion of the ordinance. Their recommendations were also reviewed at this meeting. The Spicer rep for these recommendations was Alan Bean. While Mr. Bean did a good job on some of his topics he totally caved to Andy Barnhart when asked – paraphrasing here “Why did Duke agree to meet the standards in 2011 and then after further review ask for these changes.” The tone of the question was clear and Mr. Bean responded in kind with words “I guess, I speculate, maybe circumstances have changed.” A number of issues come to mind here – opinion time – Mr. Bean was not hired to consult on the Duke changes, he was hired to review the application portion of the ordinance. Mr. Bean’s firm specializes in urban planning and ordinance creation not speculation of why an energy company wants to relax the conditions of a good ordinance.
The township board hired, for this public hearing, a sound expert to assist them in deciphering the Duke requests. Dieter Giese is a retired Ford Noise engineer and owns his own sound consulting business. His presentation was interesting and supported most if not all of what our group has stated for 2 years. He stressed that sound is not understood by most of us. Every increase of 10dB doubles the noise! So increasing the sound from 40 to 45 is really a big deal. We often have discussed that we believe that the noise of the turbines WILL cause our residents annoyance. Mr. Geise believes that annoyances can lead to health problems and that the board should not dismiss annoyances out of hand. Mr. Geise also discussed sound and infrasound studies being conducted as we speak and suggested that they possibly wait until the results are in to make decisions.
Another disturbing issue is the Leq – sound measured over a one hour period – vs. the current LaMax – which sound is measured as a onetime maximum number. Tony Agresti, Duke’s sound consultant, even stated that Duke would have to engineer to about 41 dB if LaMax was used and admitted that they would engineer to 48 or 49 dB if Leq was the standard. I thought the level was not to exceed 45 dB (opinion again). He also stated that with the average they could shut down the turbines if the wind was too strong therefore generating higher noise levels and that the shut down period would then provide the 45dB – (opinion again – How loud could it potentially be if they can just shut down the turbines to make the average work?) Trustee Ron Parker asked Mr. Agresti how residents would be able to complain and asked what type of equipment would be used to measure, and who would do the measuring. Mr. Agresti stated that the equipment is – paraphrasing here – complicated and would have to be run by a trained outside person. Duke would do their best to replicate the sound which caused the complaint. (Opinion here – how would anyone ever be able to replicate the conditions – atmospheric, wind, noise, etc. that caused the complaint? With LaMax, we could all just down load an app to a smart phone or go to Radio Shack and buy a decibel meter for about $50.
It gets worse; Duke also stated that they think that the person making the complaint should be responsible for paying for the services of the person trained to measure the Leq sound. Opinion again, So let’s see, if you have a complaint, you will have to get out your check book to pay someone employed by Duke?? or will the township have to employ a trained sound expert to handle complaints? The board passed the request for Leq without even determining how this will work. Holy smokes, approving the Duke changes will also take away our ability to complain.
The following is a list of the pro Duke people who spoke at the Monday night meeting. Because many of you are unable to attend the meetings and do not know the people I am including a note if they are not a resident or taxpayer and whether they are a business person.
Chris Claybaugh – Business Owner -Pizza Pluz
Lou Burke – Lease Holder
Phyllis Newell – Lease Holder- Dave Newell Excavating
Lucille Messimer – Lease Holder
Wesley Benjamin – Family members have lease
Carol King- Business Owner – Country Hair Salon – Reading not township
Tom Burke – Family members have lease
John Kast – Family members have lease
Kandy Scott – Business owner – Liberty Propane
Justine Galloway – Lease Holder, School Board President, wife of Duke Consultant
Tom Galloway – Lease Holder – Allen Township
Amanda Geise – Family members attending Wind Technician School in Kalamazoo
Chris Benjamin – Lease Holder
Donny Tift – Concerned citizen
Larry Richards – Business Owner – Richards Motor Sales
Michelle Galloway Buell – Family members have lease – Reading not township
Milt Howard – Duke Renewable Energy
Tony Agresti – Sound Consultant to Duke Renewable Energy
Dan Ettinger – Attorney Duke Renewable Energy
The following people spoke to retain the current ordinance or in a few cases to not allow wind at all:
Paul Davenport, Lee Tonnies, Dave Guertine, Patty Pogue, Jim Tonnies, Pete Ronan, Bob Pogue, Gretchen Oberdick, Mary Cole, Lori Thayer, John Abbey, Josh Van Camp, Greg Green, Jim Holdgreve.None of these speakers have leases, 5 are business owners, all but 1 are taxpayers in Reading Township, and 10 of the 14 also vote here.
Bottom line is this…. We don’t have to give up. The township attorney is taking the approved changes to the Hillsdale County Planning Commission on August 28. The trustees will vote on the changes at the September 10th meeting. Let the board know how you feel. Write them emails, send letters to their homes, make them listen to you. Ask us questions, we will be happy to try and get you any information that would help you spread the word. They did not consider our wishes but we cannot let our voices be silenced. The trustees, with the exception of Dena Berger, came to the meeting with their minds made up. Dena Berger asked insightful questions and voted with her conscience. The rest of the trustees approved Duke’s request summarily dismissing all of the data, and jumped on Duke’s ship hook line and sinker.