Sheridan Township Planning Commission
Public Hearing re: Pine Gate Solar
March 22, 2021 – 8:30 p.m.
Purpose: For consideration of a Conditional Use Permit (CPU) application for development of a Large Solar Energy System on approximately 230 acres involving four parcels south of H Drive, N. and Heaney Road on the east side of 28 Mile Road. Notice was placed in The Recorder* and the surrounding property owners were notified by mail.*
Present: Harold Badger (chair), Scott Frederick, Sally Jackson, Dennis McMillan, Peggy Vogt
Officials and staff: Tom Shedd (Zoning Administrator), Chris Atkin (Carlisle-Wortman Associates), Lorraine Bergman, Joe Torkelson and Andrea Koller (Pine Gate Renewables), Brien Heckman (Bauckham Sparks)
Guests: See attached list*
Chair Badger recused himself from the meeting as he has ownership in parcels involved. Vice chair, Jackson, called the meeting to order.
Shedd began with a brief description of the above described project and introduced Bergman and Torkelson, Development Project Managers.
Bergman gave a brief history of the company, its holdings, its interest in clean energy and low maintenance. She noted that PA116 land may be used, a decommissioning plan will be in place, pollinator planting and landscape protocols will be used. An eight (8') foot wildlife fence would be used if the township preferred. A site plan has been submitted and a 20-year agreement has been secured with Consumers Energy. The area will be remotely monitored and the wetland area would likely be avoided. Private gravel roads will be maintained.
A motion was made by Vogt; seconded by Jackson, to open the hearing for public questions/comments. Roll call vote: Vogt, yes; Jackson, yes; Frederick, yes; McMillan, yes. Motion passed unanimously.
(Q) = Question (A) = Answer (C) = Comment
Bergman took questions. Each speaker was allotted three minutes for their comments.
Ron Martin, 15054 28 Mile Road - (C) He has a concern re: drainage, hunting and lighting. (A) Appropriate ground cover will be installed. A wildlife friendly fence will be installed. There will be no lighting.
Douglas Udey, 15400 28 Mile Road - (C) He does not like the idea of being surrounded by fencing. He objects to the proposal because of hunting and taxes.
Garry Gann, 15230 Heaney Road - (C) He is concerned for the habitat in the area because of the fencing. He enjoys the peace and quiet. He feels this will increase taxes. He is against the project.
(Note: At this time Casey Merrild was muted from the discussions due to his lack of respect by interrupting the three other speakers who had spoken before this and Atty. Heckman. He had been warned by Jackson on three separate occasions to not interrupt other speakers by taking up their
Sheridan Township Planning Commission Page two
Matthew Riley, Ferndale - (C) He supports the project. He serves on a committee in his area addressing sustainability and feels this is the way we have to go.
Bob Kirby, 28650 F Drive, N. - (Q) Will he have a fence on his property line and, if so, would there be a buffer to cover the fencing? How close to the property line will the fence come? (A) All set-back requirements outlined in the Zoning Ordinance will be followed and appropriate vegetation will be used that will not interfere with sun rays reaching the panels. Maps are available at the township office that outline the configurations.
Jared Bocka, 28601 F Drive, N. - (Q) How is this being funded and will it increase my taxes? (A) This is being funded by Consumers Energy not by the property owners. Bocka may contact the township assessor to discuss taxes as Bergman could not address tax issues.
Mike Heisler, 20402 27-1/2 Mile Road - (C) He understands and appreciates the comments re: deer safety. He also appreciates that there is a need for a new power source. The government has in place programs with deadlines to curb emissions. Feels that changes need to be made.
Chris Cobly, 404 Haven Road - (Q) Will the power lines run from east to west. What about easements?
Will Consumers maintain and use the roads or will they cross through fields? (A) Consumers already have easements and an access road is located directly across from the Badger property on 28 Mile Road.
Unknown (via phone)- (Q) - What about lighting? (A) There will be no extra lighting.
Harold Face, 14632 28 Mile Road - (C) He bought his property for hunting. He has property on both sides of the proposed project and 3/4 of his property is marshland.
Robert Peel, 15223 Heaney Road - Mr. Peel had submitted written questions at the township office. Those have been covered with the responses received by those above.
Being no further comments from the public, a motion was made by Vogt; seconded by Jackson, to close the public comment portion of the hearing. Roll call vote: Vogt, yes; Jackson, yes; McMillan, yes; Frederick, yes. Motion passed unanimously.
A motion was made by Vogt; seconded by Jackson, to close the public hearing. Roll call vote: Vogt, yes; Jackson, yes; Frederick, yes; McMillan, yes. Motion passed unanimously.
Atkin questioned Bergman re: the following: (Q) Has the township fire department been involved in the discussions re: road access? (A) They have not been contacted. (Q) Is there a maintenance agreement with the township? (A) A maintenance agreement will be defined. (Q) What are plans for an escrow account? (A) Their plan will meet the township requirements.
Frederick - (C) re: decommissioning plan submitted by Kimberly-Horn*. Feels there is a need to follow the township's ordinance to be consistent with agreements in place with other solar providers. (Note: Not sure if this plan was provided to Carlisle-Wortman Associates.)
Heckman - Indicated the Township does not allow salvage value in the decommissioning plan. A full review of the site plan and decommissioning plan/agreement still needs to occur.
Sheridan Township Planning Commission Page three
McMillan - (C) re: neighbors comments on the tax issue - not sure if value is affected. Hunting comments - understands the issue but some do not own the land. The Zoning Ordinance calls for 50' set-back. Not sure if this was made clear to the landowners or if the plantings were made clear. All is addressed in the Ordinance.
Being no further comments from guests or Planning Commission members, Vogt made a motion; seconded by Jackson, to recommend approval of the CUP subject to the following:
1) All Carlisle-Wortman recommendations* on pages 9 and 10 are adopted as conditions except where modified below:
2) Applicant must establish an escrow account before approval of the CUP;
3) A final site plan must be submitted and approved by the Planning Commission signed by a licensed engineer;
4) The fence should be a wildlife fence as opposed to barbed wire and chain link to be approved by the Planning Commission as part of the final site plan approval;
5) The decommissioning plan/agreement is to be submitted to the Planning Commission with the final site plan or issued-for-construction plans.
Roll call vote: Vogt, yes; Jackson, yes; Frederick; yes; McMillan, yes. Motion passed unanimously.
A motion was made by Jackson; seconded by Vogt, to adjourn. Motion was passed unanimously. Meeting adjourned 9:15 p.m.
Minutes submitted by
Peggy Vogt, Secretary
Sheridan Township Planning Commission
Sally Jackson, Vice Chair
Sheridan Township Planning Commission
Approved at the 6/3/21 meeting of the Sheridan Township's Planning Commission.
*Copies of items referenced in these minutes are available in the Township Clerk's Office.