The Friends of the Huron Mountains have filed for an injunction concerning the company proposing the Summit Lake Wind Project in Baraga County.
The injunction was filed Thursday in Baraga County Circuit Court and seeks the enforcement of local ordinances in L’Anse Township.
The controversial wind farm project has been proposed by Weyerhaeuser Co./RES Americas Inc. to be built on property they own within the Huron Mountains.
The complaint asks the Court to invalidate three building permits issued last year for meteorological towers erected on that property.
The group also wants L’Anse Township to require the company to get a Special Use Permit in order to use those towers.
The company is seeking approval to erect 49 500-foot tall wind turbines in a 27,000 acre area of private property designated as commercial forest.
Here is the full press release from the Friends of the Huron Mountains:
L’Anse, Michigan, August 16, 2018 The Friends of the Huron Mountains, a group formed to protect the interests of its members in the Huron Mountains area, filed a complaint in Baraga County Circuit Court today seeking declarative and injunctive relief against L’Anse Township.
The complaint asks the Court to declare as invalid three building permits issued in January, May and July 2017 to Weyerhaeuser Co./RES Americas Inc. for meteorological (“MET”) towers that RES Americas Inc. subsequently erected on Weyerhaeuser property.
The complaint further asks that the Court order L’Anse Township to enjoin Weyerhaeuser/RES from using the towers unless they are able to obtain a Special Use Permit, and to assess appropriate fines.
Finally, the complaint asks the Court to award the plaintiff fees, costs and damages, and to grant other relief as the Court deems necessary and proper. Several township residents joined in the filing.
The Friends of the Huron Mountains learned recently that L’Anse Township improperly issued the building permits last year to Weyerhaeuser Co. to gather wind resource and other data required for building a proposed Large Wind Energy Conversion System.
The project’s first phase calls for installing 49 European-built industrial wind turbines, each 500 feet tall, within a 27,000 acre area designated as commercial forest. The industrial complex would entail massive road development and construction of an operations center, transmission sub stations, and a major transmission line.
Residents of L’Anse Township and nearby communities formed the Friends organization when they became concerned that elected officials were not complying with township ordinances.
Friends chairman Burt Mason said “We organized in April and discovered that this industrial proposal was mishandled from the beginning. Township ordinances prohibit MET Towers and Large Wind Energy Conversion Systems on commercial forestry land, yet the township issued simple building permits for the MET towers, which could lead one to believe that a wind project is feasible. In fact, special use permits should have been applied for, and approved only after rigorous review. Township officials let the cart get in front of the horse, and we’re seeing what happens when they don’t follow the process set out clearly in the ordinances.”
The Keweenaw Bay Indian Community Council passed a tribal resolution opposing the project and is working closely with the Friends of the Huron Mountains to assess whether violations of federal environmental law may have taken place on Weyerhaeuser Co. land within the project area. In addition, the Friends group confirmed that two of the three MET towers were erected without first obtaining permits required by the Michigan Tall Structure Act, a violation carrying potentially large fines.
The Friends of the Huron Mountains have hosted public information sessions and repeatedly asked questions of Weyerhaeuser/RES and L’Anse Township and Baraga County officials. Spokesperson Wayne Abba commented that answers are not forthcoming. “People just don’t understand the scale of this project,” he said. “The environmental destruction, wildlife issues, loss of property value and tourism, overstated tax revenue and questionable jobs claims – all beg for a much more informed public dialogue. The public attends our sessions in ever-increasing numbers, but not the officials. Our questions go at best half-answered as they rush to ill-informed and ill-advised decisions. We’re asking the Court to order them to put on the brakes and follow proper procedures.”
The Friends of the Huron Mountains is a nonprofit corporation formed to serve the common interests of visitors, residents, and friends of Baraga and Marquette Counties in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula