PAW PAW TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Another township in West Michigan has added its name to the list of municipalities opposing Consumers Energy’s proposal to build a 20-mile distribution line that would cut through residential properties.
On the agenda at Monday night’s Paw Paw Township Board meeting was a resolution against the current layout of a 20-mile high voltage distribution line in Van Buren County.
“‘Therefore, let it be resolved, that the Paw Paw Township Board hereby formally opposes the current route of the … high voltage line,'” the resolution read by clerk Rebecca Payne partly said.
During public comment period, property owners supported the resolution. They cited various concerns, like wildlife.
“There are eagles every day, all day, all the time on our lake, Maple Lake, and the surrounding area. They have a breeding area of about two miles,” one property owner said. “This line is definitely going to affect where they are and the ospreys, and all this other wildlife. What are they going to do when they come across the eagles’ nest? They are going to destroy it. So we can’t let something like that happen to it. This is our national bird.”
A grape vineyard owner told board members that the line would cut right through his property.
“They told me that I would be compensated so well for my grape vineyard that I would not mind,” he said. “I want to point out that I’m 42 years old, worked 20 years to save enough money to put down the down payment that cost me $42,000 to buy this vineyard. I in no way, shape or form am going to let this go across my farm.”
Many commenters said there is confusion and a lack of communication from Consumers.
“It seems very difficult to get any level of clarity. I mean, what rights do we have?” said another property owner. “It seems that if we own our property, we should be able to say ‘We don’t want this happening.'”
Even Paw Paw Township board members chimed in.
“Just so that everybody knows, we … the township, are not getting information from Consumers at all,” Supervisor Donald Stull told attendees. “We’re not holding anything back. We will give you anything … we can give you.”
“They’re not answering any more as of the last commissioners meeting,” treasurer Lisa Zinkil added.
With a 3-0 vote, the resolution passed, joining Lawrence Township with such motions. Two board members — Supervisor Donald Stull and Treasurer Lisa Zinkil — voted to abstain due to unspecified “personal involvement” with the project.
A Consumers spokesperson told News 8 they hope to partner with the community and their customers on this project to improve reliability, support economic growth and serve the region’s energy needs.
Advocates against the project said Antwerp Township and Almena Township are expected to also pass a resolution opposing the project.