New officials in Almer, Ellington seek to slow $200 million wind turbine project

Attorney Brian Garner, left, and Brian Schriber, trustee, Almer Township, were expected to be key points of discussion during a Tuesday meeting of Almer Township Board of Trustees. (Photo by Andrew Dietderich)
Attorney Brian Garner, left, and Brian Schriber, trustee, Almer Township, were expected to be key points of discussion during a Tuesday meeting of Almer Township Board of Trustees. (Photo by Andrew Dietderich)

Special meetings were held for Almer and Ellington townships Tuesday with one general mission: slow progress on a $200 million wind turbine project in the works for Tuscola County.
Each board posted public notice of the special meetings Sunday evening, and within hours of newly elected officials taking office. The meetings were held after press time for The Advertiser, but the agendas for each were nearly identical: to consider a moratorium on wind turbine developments; potential changes to legal representation; and changes to the planning commissions in each respective community.
The Ellington Township agenda also referred to “consideration of an Open Meetings Act violation.”
Leading up to the meetings, officials told The Advertiser the overall goal was to slow the process of approving the special land use permit applications for Tuscola III Wind Energy Park, a $200 million project planned for Almer, Ellington, and Fairgrove townships.
“I have felt like for the duration this has been forced onto the fast-track,” said Jim Mantey, Almer Township’s new supervisor. “And I think going into this, we really want to slow it down and make sure it is fair to everyone in the township.”
“I think we just need to slow things down,” said Art Graff, elected to serve as a trustee on the Almer Township board. “There’s been so much new information that’s come up.”
Tuscola III is a project of Juno Beach, Florida-based NextEra Energy Resources L.L.C. through the subsidiary Tuscola III L.L.C.
The project has been in the works for several years, according to records from the Tuscola County Register of Deeds that show the company securing leases in Almer and Ellington as far back as 2014. Unlike Fairgrove Township (which already has wind turbines as part of a previous NextEra Energy Resources project), the industrial machines would be new to both communities. (Read more)

(This story first appeared in the Nov. 23, 2016 print edition of The Tuscola County Advertiser and can read online in its entirety here.)

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