COLUMBUS — State Sen. Rob McColley and state Rep. Bill Reineke on Wednesday announced they are introducing companion bills that would permit a township referendum vote on certain wind farm projects.
The legislation would make it so a state certificate for a wind farm project, or an amendment to an existing state certificate, would only become effective after 90 days.
During those 90 days, the electorate in an affected township would be able to file a petition for a referendum with the local board of elections.
The petition would need the signatures of qualified voters — at least 8% of those who voted in the last gubernatorial election in that township.
If the petition had the required number of signatures, the decision would be put before township voters in the next primary or general election.
“Our intent with this legislation is to give property owners more control over what happens in their backyard,” said Reineke, R-Tiffin.
“No one should be told how to manage their property by outsiders, and these permissive township referendums will allow voters to effectively voice their opinion on whether or not these projects are a good fit for their community,” Reineke said.
“This bill represents an important step in getting power back in the hands of the people,” said McColley, R-Napoleon. “The presence of wind turbines in a given area can have drastic impacts on property values, desirability, and safety. Thus, local residents absolutely deserve to have a say in wind development siting, and should not just be at the mercy of bureaucrats in Columbus.
“I am confident that this grassroots-effort legislation will bridge the gap, and give residents the autonomy over their property and communities that they need and deserve,” McColley said.
State Rep. Craig Riedel, R-Defiance, supports the legislation and signed on as a co-sponsor of the bill.
“This referendum gives local control to the townships,” Riedel said. “It allows wind development projects to move forward where they are welcome and stops projects that are not welcomed by the townships.”