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Four public officials in Delta County facing recall petitions over Heritage wind turbine expansion

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DELTA COUNTY - Three Fairbanks Township board members and one Garden Township board member are facing recall petitions for alleged conflicts of interest regarding the potential expansion of the Heritage wind farm on the Garden Peninsula.

The petitions filed in Delta County on Thursday, January 11, name Garden Township Supervisor Morgan Tatrow, Fairbanks Township Supervisor Ronald Collins, Fairbanks Township Clerk Kathryn Denholm and Fairbanks Township Trustee James Dalgord as all being "(I)n violation of conflict of interest laws as outlines in Act 318 of 1968 of the Michigan Compiled Laws."

Public Act 318 of 1968 regards conflict of interest laws regarding public officials of and within the State of Michigan.

The conflicts of interest in the Heritage project allegedly stem from the officials having wind leases with Heritage Sustainable Energy and not abstaining from involvement on the proposed expansion, according to a source with knowledge of why the petitions were filed. The source says the officials or their immediate family members, stand to benefit financially from additional wind turbines. 

A search of the Heritage permit agreement with Delta County shows that Dalgord has had a lease with Heritage since March, 2007. No other officials being recalled have direct lease agreements in the expansion, though there are lease agreements with Garden and Fairbanks Township residents that share last names with Collins and Tatrow. Tatrow told Local 3 that he has a lease in phase one of the project, but nothing in the proposed expansion.

Local 3 reached out to all of the officials for comment. Tatrow and Denholm both said they needed more time to look into the recall petition having received notice of it today. Collins and Dalgord were unavailable. A message was left for Dalgord and we were told to call back after 6:00 PM to reach Collins.

The Heritage Garden Wind Farm in Garden Township consists of 14 wind turbines and started operation in September, 2012.

Currently Heritage is looking to add 40 more wind turbines to the existing project.

There is a Delta County Planning Commission public hearing to discuss the project on Monday, January 15 at the Delta County Courthouse.

A hearing will be held on January 23 to determine the legitimacy of the recall and if it can continue and collect signatures. The recall petitions would need to collect signatures more than or equal to 25% of the number of people who voted for Governor in 2014 in Garden Township and Fairbanks Township respectively. 


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