Local control matters in Webster Township
Wanting some local control over their own community, it’s as simple as that for Webster Township when they approved a resolution at their October 17 meeting that addresses four bills recently introduced in the Michigan House of Representatives.
The Sun Times News followed up with township supervisor John Kingsley and treasurer John Scharf about this.
Of the bills introduced in Lansing, Scharf said if adopted, “local zoning of large scale solar, wind and battery facilities would be controlled by the Michigan Public Service Commission and the local municipalities would lose all authority to regulate in any way.”
“We feel that the State has little or no knowledge of our Township's land use and plan,” Kingsley said. “Local residents should have a direct say in what happens around them not some appointed bureaucrat who may never even visit our community.”
The approved township resolution begins with: A RESOLUTION EXPRESSING SUPPORT TO MAINTAIN LOCAL CONTROL OVER LOCAL LAND USES INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO: SHORT-TERM RENTALS, INDUSTRIAL SOLAR INSTALLATIONS, INDUSTRIAL WIND TURBINE INSTALLATIONS AND SAND AND GRAVEL MINING.
Scharf said Webster Township Board deliberated at length at the last meeting regarding their possible response to new bills in Lansing designed to transfer control of some aspects of zoning from the local municipalities to the Michigan Public Service Commission (e.g. HB5120, HB5121, HB5122, and HB5123).
He said this resolution should communicate “to our legislators that local control is important and necessary to ensure that our communities develop as intended by the residents, landowners, and the corresponding master plans.”
“It’s very important to be clear,” said Scharf. “The Webster Township zoning ordinance allows solar and wind energy installations, including large scale, provide they comply with the zoning ordinance.”
He said, “The Resolution is a simple, but serious, statement that Webster is representing the wish of our residents to maintain local control over our Community.”
He added, “Some folks may appreciate a reminder that Webster Township is committed to preserving farmland. Through our Farmland and Open Space Preservation program, more than 2,000 acres are preserved.”
Another part of the township’s resolution states “Webster Township supports the longstanding right of local community self - determination as provided by the laws and constitution of the State of Michigan. As the members of the Board of Webster Township, we resolve to maintain the duties and responsibilities bestowed upon us as elected representatives by our constituents to execute their will to the best of our abilities in these matters.”
Scharf noted large scale solar is possible in Webster’s agricultural district with a Special Use Permit. To date, he said Webster has not received a single request. This zoning ordinance language went into effect in 2021.
If township residents wish to share their preferences with their State Representative and State Senator, here is their contact information:
Jennifer Conlin, State Representative
P.O. Box 30014
Lansing, MI 48909-7514
Sue Shink, State Senator
P.O. Box 30036
Lansing, MI 48909-7536