By Patrick Sullivan
A citizens group opposed to a wind farm in Benzie and Manistee counties
says Central Michigan University (CMU) is keeping documents related to the
project from public view.
An attorney for Arcadia Wind Study Group filed a lawsuit last week that
seeks to force CMU to release hundreds of pages of documents.
CMU and Duke Energy entered into an agreement on March 1 to undertake a
study called Township Views of Alternative Energy and Wind Farms.
Duke agreed to pay CMU $21,581 for the work.
Now, Arcadia says, CMU will not release the results of the study.
A call for comment to the CMU general counsels office was referred to the
schools communications office, which did not return a message seeking
The Arcadia group filed a request under the Michigan Freedom of
Information Act on May 5 for records related to that study and a report
university researchers prepared for Duke, according to the lawsuit.
Three weeks later, CMU informed Arcadia that its request would only
partially be granted, citing exemptions in the
The university refused to turn over survey results, survey data, and the
final report on the basis that those items were the property of Duke
When the university was still slow to turn over documents it did deem
public, Arcadia filed a lawsuit in the 19th Circuit Court in Manistee
For the study, CMU agreed to conduct telephone and mail surveys of
residents of Arcadia, Blaine, Joyfield and Pleasanton townships.
Jesse Williams, attorney for Arcadia, said he doesnt know why the
university is reluctant to turn over documents.
I dont know, I have not spoken to their counsel, Williams said. I
would like at least an opportunity to have someone explain that to me.
The lawsuit seeks an order to force CMU to turn over all of the requested
documents, damages of $500, and attorney fees for Arcadia. The maximum
damage amount allowed under FOIA is $500.
We really hoped we could have avoided going through the courts, Doug
Carter, president of the Arcadia Wind Study Group, said in a statement.
Duke Energy is not a party in the suit and the suit does not allege any
wrongdoing against Duke.
This was a privately commissioned survey, commissioned for the sole
purpose of helping Duke Energy refine the projects footprint, said Duke
spokesman Greg Efthimiou.
The wind proposal has divided some residents of the rural townships.
Some residents object to the project, saying the turbines would be placed
too close to homes and they could harm property values.
Proponents of the project say its a way of producing clean energy while
bringing millions of dollars into the regions economy.
Groundbreaking for Sleeping Bear bike path
The Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail in the national park will have its
groundbreaking ceremony at the Dune Climb on Friday, August 12 at 11 a.m.
When completed, the 27-mile trail will run from the southern edge of
Leelanau County through the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore north
A news release from TART Trails states that the groundbreaking will
celebrate the upcoming construction of nearly five miles of trail between
Glen Arbor and the Dune Climb. Construction is scheduled to begin this
fall and be completed next year.
The trail is a project of the Leelanau Scenic Heritage Route Committee
(LSHR) in partnership with the Michigan Department of Transportation,
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes,
and TART Trails.
Funding for the trail comes from federal and state grants, foundations,
and individual donations.
After five years, this amazing Leelanau Scenic Heritage Route project is
taking physical shape. By this time next year, we will be able to safely
bike, walk, or wheel from the Dune Climb to Glen Arbor with the
opportunity to stop at other park sites in between, said Patty
ODonnell, Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail project manager - Northwest
Michigan Council of Governments
The trail was included in the National Lakeshores most recent management
plan and garnered strong public support during the planning process.
According to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Superintendent Dusty
Shultz the The Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail is the single most exciting
project to come out of our recently completed General Management Plan.
The trail will provide a wonderful way to explore and learn about the
park, as well as become a meaningful alternative for visitors to travel
between park sites and local businesses without having to use their
cars! -- Express staff reports