By Gary Rennie, The Windsor Star
AMHERSTBURG Residents opposing a $25 million wind turbine project along Con. 6 want to know which rules apply — the town’s tougher zoning bylaw or the new guidelines of Ontario’s Green Energy Act.
Town council didn’t have clear answers for them Monday on the future of GenGrowth’s 10 megawatt South Side project. “When we run around in circles like this, I can see why people get upset,” said Coun. John Sutton.
Amherstburg requires a 600-metre setback from turbines and homes that are not on the land leased for the project, which is the biggest setback in Essex County.
Other municipalities generally went with 300-metre setbacks, except for Essex, which has a 450-metre setback.
Concession 6 resident Mick MacCorquodale pointed out four of the five turbines proposed by GenGrowth wouldn’t meet Amherstburg’s setback requirement from homes.
However the turbines would meet the new provincial regulations, which require a 550-metre setback, MacCorquodale.
The provincial regulations took effect Sept. 24, last year, MacCorquodale noted. But he argued since the project got a ministry of environment approval on Sept. 18 that the town’s bylaw, which was still in force on that date, should apply.
“No changes should be allowed,” said MacCorquodale. “Any deviation would be unlawful or actionable.”
Mayor Wayne Hurst said residents like MacCorquodale were raising “some very valid questions.”
The company “isn’t above the law,” and would have to comply, but the mayor also wasn’t sure with what standard.
Hurst also thought the province should be providing clear answers to residents about potential noise and health impacts from wind turbines based on Ontario studies.
MacCorquodale said residents on Concession 6 are concerned about noise from the turbines and the risk of reduced property values.
“It is our homes and lifestyles,” said MacCorquodale. “How many of you would appreciate being kept up all night?”
Company officials weren’t at the council meeting.
Emails from the company didn’t clarify whether they intend to meet all Green Energy Act regulations or seek zoning amendments from the town.
The ministry of Environment and the company need to clarify their positions, said Coun. Rick Fryer.