2018-04-12 / Front Page

Township alters residential limits in new solar ordinance after facing controversy

By Sam Tunningley
810-452-2661 • stunningley@mihomepaper.com

FLUSHING – A number of protestors stood outside Flushing Township Hall Monday night to make their voices heard against residential restrictions set in a new solar energy ordinance currently being drafted by the Planning Commission.

The board altered the language in the ordinance after pushback from the packed room, and several of its members expressed their disapproval of the initial limits.

Prior to the meeting, Buddy Dalton, a township resident who is planning on opening a solar panel business in Clio, placed signs around Seymour Rd. and Mount Morris Rd. urging residents to attend the 7 p.m. meeting.

The signs read “Flushing Township is trying to stop you from going solar.”

Dalton also produced a radio advertisement in heavy rotation on Banana 101.5 and 103.9 The FOX calling attention to the ordinance.

The grievances expressed by the crowd included the limitations considered by the board of solar paneling square footage on residential properties. For lots less than an acre, the number for ground-mounted solar panels was set at a maximum of 96 square feet; for lots over an acre, energy collectors could not exceed 192 square feet.

“We want to use our property as we see fit,” said Dalton. “With a simple permit, we should be able to install any panels people would like to buy.”

Bryan Williamson, another township protestor, said the limitations make even less sense when not permitted on the front of houses. The board set the square footage largely for aesthetic reasons and to maintain the character of single family homes in the district.

“It should be unanimous,” said Williamson.

The language is the ordinance, which has yet to be drafted in full, now states residents can use up to 20 percent of their property for solar energy, including all building structures on the property. If, for example, a resident has a pole barn, it is included in the 20 percent.

“96 square feet is woefully inadequate; 192, if you’ll recall at the last meeting, I said the same thing,” said Donn Hinds. “It’s too restrictive.”

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