A few months ago, the “anti water” people in Denmark Township cheered when the board announced that they would drop their efforts to develop a new water district. It may have been a victory for those suing the board, but what about the dozens of people who desperately wanted the water. This project got off on the wrong foot and went too far to be corrected. Cancelling this project will hurt Denmark Township in the long run. Now we have the “anti wind” people trying to keep wind energy out of the Township. They gather all manner of negative information from the internet and present hundreds of printed pages to the board as “documents”. Printing something off the internet does not make it true or a document.
The truth lies with the people living in the wind farms and the local officials dealing with wind farms in their municipalities. On January 8, we met with Breckenridge Village Manager, Jeff Ostrander. He told us of many positive things that are happening in his county, township and village. Presently, 11% of Gratiot County’s revenue is from wind turbines. Breckenridge School District passed a $4 million bond issue to replace two old school buildings with a new one. This will be funded by the wind turbine revenue. The Village of Breckenridge receives no direct revenue from the wind farms and yet is prospering right in the middle of the turbines. Since 2009 they have developed an industrial park and property values have increased 1.3% per year. Several developers are interested in building housing in Breckenridge, because of a current housing shortage.
Many of the scare tactics being implemented by the “anti wind” people are untrue. Windmills do not catch on fire, they do not spray oil, and they do not fall apart. It is not impossible, but it would be a rarity. They have system after system of safeguards. They are constantly monitored by computers and if the wind blows too hard, they shut down. If ice forms on the blades, they shut down. If they have an oil leak, it runs into a holding tank inside the tower.
Columbia, Akron and Fairgrove Townships have approved or are in the final stages of developing a wind ordinance, while Denmark Township has instituted yet another 6-month moratorium. Not only is this denying the property rights of the landowners willing to host these turbines, but it is keeping millions of dollars in tax revenue out of Denmark Township. Everyone living in the township will be affected. The board is already talking about grinding up roads and returning them to gravel because there is no money to fix them. Police protection is being eliminated because there is no money to pay for it. Special assessments have been put on the existing water district residents, because there is not enough revenue being generated.
If the plan is to keep Denmark Township free of wind turbines to bring in residential housing, it is a pipe dream. The population of Denmark Township has been in decline for thirty years. Who will build a house in a township that has no police protection, poor water quality in large areas, increasing tax assessments and gravel roads. It is not wind turbines that bring down property values, it is the above-mentioned conditions.
Janet H. Hecht,