MONTAGUE — Tuesday night’s White River Township board meeting included several reports on the likes of the White Lake Ambulance Authority, Chemours Environmental Impact Committee (CEIC) and others, but the topic on most attendees’ minds was again the proposed Lakeside Solar project. Members of a group opposing the size of the project, which is reported to be 1,700 acres, turned out and filled the room to near-capacity. Many of them wore bright blue t-shirts displaying the message “No Industrial Solar”.

The public comment portion of the meeting was dominated by speakers on each side of the solar debate, with a few arguing in favor of the solar facility while many argued against it. At one point, commenter Matthew Hedges simply asked that everyone in the room that was against the solar facility as proposed to stand and rase their hands, followed by the majority of the room doing so.

The final public commenter of the night, Dave Pickard, addressed supervisor Mike Cockerill directly, suggesting that he resign his post to save the group the effort of a recall. Cockerill is among the landowners whose property is part of the proposed solar project, and the group arguing against the project believes Cockerill used his position unethically when the township’s solar ordinance was updated in 2019. In its recent lawsuit filing against the township, Lakeside Solar claimed that it collaborated with the township on the updated ordinance in anticipation of the project.

Cockerill did not reply to Pickard and the meeting was adjourned right after Pickard’s comment.

Earlier in the meeting, Cockerill noted in his WLAA report that White River Township is easily the largest financial contributor to the authority, reporting that it provides about $214,000 of the $660,000 the authority receives from nearby townships. The next-closest, he said, was Blue Lake Township at roughly $140,000.

During a report from the planning commission, trustee George Dufresne expressed vehement disagreement with what he said was a Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) claim that Sadony Bayou does not have recreational value. Also as part of the reports, trustee Laura Anderson updated attendees on CEIC’s activities, reporting that the group would continue its media outreach efforts, which included a recent guest column in the White Lake Beacon.

Also mentioned during the meeting was that a planned staircase from the end of Hancock Road to the Lake Michigan beach is currently on hold, with no further elaboration. Township clerk Patti Sargent told the Beacon in an email she had no further information to share at this time.