General Information

Throwing Local Zoning to the Wind

by Kati Holtrop

Do you know who is responsible for deciding whether your area is a Residential Neighborhood or a Commercial area? How about who decides whether a huge, stinky factory can move into the lot next to your child’s playground or school? Or how about who can allow foreign green energy companies to rent out thousands of acres of our state’s best farmland to build semi-permanent solar or wind farms that may not actually benefit the communities they are constructed in or the environment they pave over? Who decides whether or not an industrial energy storage facility can be built near your house?

Those decisions were made by our local township zoning boards until last November. Now, according to Citizens for Local Choice, the power to zone industrial energy storage, wind, and solar rests solely in the hands of three unelected people appointed by our governor as the Michigan Public Service Commission.

An example of the size of wind turbines.

Citizens for Local Choice, described as a broad coalition of bi-partisan voters from across the state, is fighting for the issue of local zoning authority to be put on the ballot for public debate this November. Volunteers around the state, including in Muskegon County, have been working to educate voters and collect signatures for the ballot proposal. The group needs 550,000 signatures by May 22nd, in order to do that. But the current total of signatures the group has collected is lacking. CFLC’s ballot proposal is supported by the Michigan Farm Bureau, as well as the Michigan Townships Association, among others.

According to Carl Bednarski, President of the Michigan Farm Bureau, “Michigan citizens witnessed an unprecedented Lansing power-grab when the legislature passed House Bills 5120 and 5121 [Public Act 233 of 2023] — legislation that removed zoning jurisdiction from local officials in siting decisions of utility-scale wind, solar, and energy storage projects…According to MPSC Chairman Dan Scripps, reaching the 2040 [state] energy goal will require an estimated 209,000 additional acres of farmland for wind and solar generation to achieve even 60% of energy from renewable sources.” (

The acreage required for these green energy utilities has since risen to 300,000 acres, after legislators were convinced of the smaller acreage.

An example of how close utility-sized some green energy projects are to farms and communities.

Many other voices have raised concerns about Public Act 233 and its implications for local communities.

Additionally, District 98 State Rep. Greg Alexander told Huron Daily Tribune, “Commissions (like the Michigan Public Service Commission), are not elected officials, they are bureaucrats… Though an amendment was made by Rep. (Joey Andrews) which added that land could not be taken by eminent domain, the Michigan Public Service Commission reserves the right of final determination.” (Dominic Sevilla, Huron Daily Tribune, Nov 17, 2023)

Catherine Andrews, former L’Anse Township Planning Commissioner says, “As a lifelong environmentalist, I was appalled when a foreign corporation proposed constructing a large-scale wind energy project on the Michigamme Highlands and the Huron Mountains in L’Anse Township.  A project of that scale would have directly impacted Mount Arvon, the highest point in Michigan as well as the vast networks of rivers, streams and wetlands in Baraga County which is known as the county with the most waterfalls in Michigan. It was only through local zoning that we were able to protect those precious natural features. Without local zoning, our wild places are at risk of corporate exploitation.” (

An example of how some utility-sized green energy projects use wild areas.

Adding to Andrews’ concerns, CFLC quotes Maurie Denecker, Riga Township Planning Commissioner and farmer: “In Michigan, tenant farmers contribute significantly to our crops. While utilities claim to need only a small portion of prime farmland, they overlook the economic destruction to local agriculture. Taking large swaths of land out of production hinders new and young farmers from finding affordable land. The cash offered for land rent ends up in the hands of a few corporate farms, not benefiting the local community.” (

An example of a solar farm near a plowed field.

Opponents say Public Act 233 reduces or removes many protective restrictions on utility-scale green energy facilities as well.

While proponents of the act tout that it will be beneficial to farmers, enabling them to keep farmland, and that eminent domain will not be used against local land owners, the concerns voiced by opponents must not go unheard. A recent poll by Michigan Townships Association found that 87% of citizens believe that the local level of government should be responsible for permitting utility-scale renewable energy. ( (

For information on this debate and how to get involved, visit

You can also find information on the Muskegon County Citizens for Local Choice Facebook page,

Reach out to your CFLC county captain at

Photos courtesy of, used for illustration, not actual Michigan green energy locations.

2022 Carefree Travel Guide & National Plan for Vacation Day

Celebrate National Plan for Vacation Day By Requesting Your Free 2022 Carefree Travel Guide From the West Michigan Tourist Association
submitted by the West Michigan Tourist Association

West Michigan – As part of National Plan for Vacation Day on January 25, the West Michigan Tourist Association (WMTA) wants to encourage you to request your free copy of their 2022 Carefree Travel Guide!

National Plan for Vacation Day (NPVD), powered by U.S. Travel Association, encourages Americans to plan their vacation days for the entire year at the start of the year. After nearly two years of pandemic stress and fatigue, NPVD is an opportunity for Americans to look ahead to brighter days and make plans for getaways or vacations over the coming months.

Planning is the key to taking time off and traveling. A new study from Destination Analysts, commissioned by U.S. Travel Association, reveals that Americans who plan out their paid time off take more time off to travel, but one-quarter (24%) of American households don’t take this simple step.

“The West Michigan Tourist Association is joining thousands of organizations across the country to celebrate National Plan for Vacation Day and encourage Americans to take some much-needed time off,” said Erin Murphy, Marketing Manager for WMTA. “By committing to planning on January 25, Americans can all enjoy the many benefits of taking a break while giving themselves something to look forward to—and now is the perfect time to request your free copy of our 2022 Carefree Travel Guide. This year’s guide is bursting with fun ideas to get people out and exploring all that West Michigan has to offer. It’s got great photos, lots of maps, and (most importantly) information on how you can plan your next adventure!”

The Carefree Travel Guide can be viewed online, or sent to you for free by requesting your copy on their website.

U.S. Travel Association is the national, non-profit organization representing all components of the travel industry. In 2020, travel generated $1.5 trillion in economic output and supported 11 million jobs, a drastic decline from pre-pandemic figures. U.S. Travel’s mission is to increase travel to and within the United States. Visit for information and recovery-related data.

Live Views from Houghton Lake Now Available 24/7

WEST MICHIGAN, MI – Picturing yourself in West Michigan has never been easier, with the West Michigan Live Camera Gallery from the West Michigan Tourist Association (WMTA). Whether you’re planning a vacation and want to preview conditions at your destination, or want to travel around the state without leaving home, you’ll find live feeds of what’s happening right now across the West Michigan area.

WMTA is excited to announce another new live camera stream in their online gallery, this one from Houghton Lake, located in Roscommon County. The live stream may be found here:

The Houghton Lake Area Tourism Bureau has installed this live camera, overlooking their namesake lake. Houghton Lake is Michigan’s largest inland lake, covering 22,000 acres. 

Houghton Lake is a great destination if you’re looking for a beach day: with dozens of resorts, motels, and lodges located right on the water, and many more public beaches and picnic areas, you will have your pick of the right beach for you. There are two great public beaches that include swimming, children toys, barbecue pits, and sheltered picnic areas.

The lake also offers great fishing possibilities for walleye, pike, bass, and bluegill. There are seven access sites strategically located around the lake. 

Roscommon County and Houghton Lake offer activities for the whole family, whether you love to hike and bike, golf and shop, or canoe and swim. Visitors will find four seasons of fun, fishing, fireworks, and festivals. Michigan’s “Other Great Lakes” – Houghton Lake, Higgins Lake, and Lake St. Helen will delight you with their natural beauty, wildlife viewing, and spectacular sunrises and sunsets. All three lakes are a sportsman’s fishing and boating paradise. 

“The Live Camera Gallery is a great way to virtually travel around West Michigan without leaving your computer or phone,” says Dan Sippel, executive director of the West Michigan Tourist Association. “We’re excited for the opportunities that it gives to locations, for them to show off what’s happening in real time around the area. Travelers or people living in the area can virtually explore different areas of West Michigan that they may not otherwise have a chance to visit.”

Camera feeds will continue to be added to the gallery moving forward, expanding the available views of the West Michigan area. Current camera feeds range from Mackinac Island to Muskegon to Drummond Island, and beyond. 

Link to live West Michigan Live Camera Gallery:

Spring Destinations in West Michigan

submitted by the West Michigan Tourist Association


Spring has arrived in West Michigan! 
West Michigan is bursting with new life and warmer weather! Check out the below info to do a little bit of Spring dreaming & planning, courtesy of some of our favorite West Michigan destinations


Traverse City Tourism
Whether you’re new to the Traverse Wine Coast or a returning visitor…


Silver Lake Sand Dunes
Silver Lake State Park celebrates 2,000 acres of sand dunes…


Crystal Mountain, Thompsonville
Exceptional golf experiences happen here, at Crystal Mountain…


Discover Kalamazoo
Visit Kalamazoo to celebrate spring with getaway packages…


Critter Barn, Zeeland
Critter Barn invites you to take a farm class this Spring…


St. Ignace Visitors Bureau
A St. Ignace Day is your opportunity for discovery and renewal…


Ottawa County Parks, West Olive
Calling all boaters – visit us on the water starting April 15…


Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau
There’s no better place to enjoy a spring getaway than the Petoskey Area…


Chalet on the Lake, Stevensville
Chalet on the Lake is the perfect spot to spend time with family and friends…


Cornwell’s Turkeyville, Marshall
Camp Turkeyville is excited to welcome back campers…


Greater Lansing Visitors Bureau
Looking for fun activities for your Michigan Spring Break Staycation…


South Haven Convention & Visitors Bureau
Find your escape in the great outdoors as the weather begins to warm and the sun begins to shine…


Chateau Chantal, Traverse City
Spring is finally starting in the vineyard…


Bellaire Chamber of Commerce
Spring is when the great north country comes alive…


Ludington Area Convention & Visitors Bureau
Spring is the perfect time to explore Pure Ludington…


Paddle Antrim, Elk Rapids
Paddler’s Paradise in Northern Michigan…


Mackinac Island Tourism
For centuries, visitors have found this national landmark to be the ideal vacation spot…


Fenn Valley Vineyards, Fennville
Be among the first to try 6 new wines to be released…


Mecosta County Visitors Bureau
Explore trails for picturesque hiking and biking and enjoy over 100 lakes, streams…

Free 2021 “Carefree Travel Guide” Introduces You to the Best of West Michigan

West Michigan – When you’re ready to start your travel planning, the new West Michigan Carefree Travel Guide is here to give you some inspiration! The brand-new 2021 edition of the guide is now available both digitally and by mail, at no cost.

This free guide is available from the West Michigan Tourist Association (WMTA) to view online, or travelers may request that a free copy be mailed to them, both at the following web address:

Highlighting West Michigan’s miles of coastline, hiking and biking trails, golf courses, ski resorts, and more, the Carefree Travel Guide is an excellent resource to help you get out and explore the many things that West Michigan has to offer.

“We hope this guide will inspire you to explore a new destination or revisit an old favorite. You’ll find small towns waiting to host you for a relaxing weekend and lively downtowns who have come up with new ways to safely cater to visitors,” says Dan Sippel, WMTA’s Executive Director. In addition, the guide contains information on area beaches, restaurants, wineries, lighthouses, and much more.

You’ll also find maps throughout the guide, making it easy to find which breweries, wineries, boating spots, golf courses, and more will be near your destination.

Start planning your trip when you request you free copy of the guide, and access on your computer or mobile device to get updates on events happening throughout the year, and to find out what’s going on where you are.

Want to get a real-time look at West Michigan? Check out our gallery of live West Michigan cameras, where you can see what’s happening around the area. You’ll find all of the live camera feeds at

If you are a business who would like to request a large quantity of Carefree Travel Guides for distribution (free of charge), please contact to arrange delivery.

Hotspots Are Now Available at Hackley Public Library

Are you interested in using the internet, but don’t have access?

Visit Hackley Public Library and check out a mobile Hotspot! This helpful device can provide Wi-Fi Internet access for up to 10 devices, and is user-friendly. Connect your computer, tablet, phone, or other device to a Hotspot, and see what you can discover. A hotspot may be checked out for one week.

To check out a hotspot, patrons must be 18 years of age or older, and must read, understand, and sign an agreement at the HPL Circulation Desk.  For more details, stop into Hackley Public Library or give us a call at 231-722-8000.

Brought through the generosity of the Friends of Hackley Public Library.


For more information, please contact Hackley Public Library, 316 W Webster Ave Muskegon MI 49440, at Reference: 231-722-8011, Circulation: 231-722-8000, Youth Services: 231-722-8014,, or @hackleyref.  Visit our Flickr PR album:

West Michigan is Now LIVE!

wmtalivecameragalleryGet a first look at the West Michigan Live Camera Gallery on!

Preview conditions at your travel destination, check on snowfall totals across the area, or virtually visit someplace new! You’ll find live feeds of what’s happening right now across West Michigan.

usssilversidesVirtually visiting the USS Silversides in Muskegon is just one of the live camera feeds you’ll find, with more being added all the time!