By WES KELLER Freelance Reporter, Orangeville Citizen
The designation of an area of Melancthon Township as a specialty crop area might prove to be more complicated than thought, if such a designation is sought.
According to correspondence to be discussed at today’s council meeting, a Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) official says the township can do this within its Official Plan “on a locally significant basis.”
However, Community Planning and Development manager Mark Christie recommends that the “proposal be supported by appropriate technical studies, mapping, planning rationale and peer reviews that may be necessary to confirm findings and inform council’s decision.”
Both MMAH and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) could be helpful in reviewing the materials, “recognizing that this would be a local initiative,” he says.
But it might not stop with the need for studies. “It is recommended that broad consultation be undertaken as part of the process, with the public and key stakeholders, including representatives of agriculture, mineral aggregate resources and the environment.”
As well, the province has yet to develop the required evaluation procedures, Mr. Christie says.
Even then, “the designation of land as a specialty crop area … would not necessarily preclude other uses from occurring, such as mineral aggregate operations or renewable energy related projects.”
Mr. Christie had met with planner Jerry Jorden and CAO Denise Holmes in December, and reviewed the Planscape proposal to designate 4,300 hectares or 10,625 acres in the township as a specialty crop area.
Further complicating the issue, apart from several sections of the Provincial Policy Statement, and with respect to installation of wind farms, Mr. Christie points out that under the Green Energy Act the Renewable Energy Approval process rather than the Planning Act applies.
Also possibly to be reviewed today will be a bylaw by which one township in Bruce County is seeking to take back control of renewable energy planning issues, although the GEA would appear to hold the trump card.
Mr. Jorden, however, is commenting on a Town of Hammond, New York, proposal to safeguard property values by agreements with every property owner within a two-mile radius of a turbine site.
Mr. Jorden says the agreement would be that the developer would pay the difference between the asking price and sale price “where the latter is lower than the former as a result of proximity to the wind turbine.”
He says there is also a provision for the developer to reimburse anyone who served notice that they didn’t want to live within two miles of the turbine.
He warns that the Hammond document is lengthy and complicated, and that the township should seek legal advice before considering adapting it to the local need.