Concerns with noise and health affects continue to be raised as Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh Twp. council prepares their wind turbine setback bylaw.
Township residents once again packed the council chambers on Sept. 19 to discuss the proposed setback requirements for wind turbines. The requirements include 400 metres from a residential building, a 600 metre setback from urban settlements and a setback requirement for roadways of 1.25 times the height of the turbine.
Although council is in favour of the proposed bylaw, they deferred its passing to allow for more research to be completed and input from the public or ministry to be made.
“We are leaving the setback requirements the same,” said Reeve Ben Van Diepenbeek.
“In general, I think most people are pleased with the setback bylaw.”
Mark Kernighan stated in a letter to council that they should not consider making the proposed changes anymore restrictive as it would be difficult for smaller farm lots to establish a wind farm.
“The introduction of Green Energy by the provincial government is giving farmers another means of income. Upon reviewing the proposed changes to this zoning bylaw, I am in support of these recommendations,” said Kernighan.
Huron County Federation of Agriculture President Nick Whyte stated in a letter that council should be flexible when considering changes to the municipal zoning bylaw.
“This agricultural county needs every opportunity to improve the livelihoods of its farmers,” said Whyte. “Landowners should be able to pursue this endeavour as another means of agricultural income.”
John Moore, stated in a letter that the proposed setbacks were more than adequate.
“I urge you to not make setbacks any more restrictive than you presented, to allow ACW to continue to be an agricultural township,” said Moore.
Township residents Richard and Julie Moore also stated their concerns with the setback requirements in a letter to council.
“I am a second generation farmer, with a family to provide for, attempting to survive current farming conditions. Currently, I farm the sun and the rain for crops and I hope, in the near future to farm the wind – this is agriculture,” said the Moores.
Van Diepenbeek said they have not found any research stating that the turbines can cause health affects but they are also deferring the adoption of the bylaw until more research can be done.
Ross and Darlene Brindley stated in a letter that council should consider effects of noise, electro-magnetic field and the effects on livestock. The Brindleys said they are about a half mile from four wind turbines and there are three more wind turbines about three-quaters of a mile away on Council Line.
“From our personal experience, living among these wind turbines, I would recommend not having them closer than one mile from any residence and paying attention to livestock which are outdoors near the wind turbines,” said the Brindleys.
Susan Shaw, director of Ontario Business Development for EPCOR, said they are working hard with council to address the concerns from the public.
“There has been a lot of input made on this bylaw. It has been a very good process by council,” said Shaw. “There are a few individuals who are not satisfied with the project but we did have several people make comments of support.”
Kevin Smith, of Aerocoustics – a Toronto-based company, attended the meeting on behalf of EPCOR to address the concerns with regards to noise. Also, Chris Hutt, from the Ministry of Environment, attended the meeting to explain the environmental process.
Shaw said with regards to the potential impact of wind turbines on property value, they reviewed the available research and shared with council an informative and authoritative study from the United States on the issue. The study found no conclusive evidence that wind farms affect property values.
Paul McMillan, Senior Vice President of Development for EPCOR, stated in a letter to council that there are two potential sources of sound emitted by wind turbines – aerodynamic (the “wooshing” or “swishing” noise from the blade movement) and mechanical (the occasional noise from the gear box when the turbine turns.)
He said the Ontario government strictly regulates how much sound from the turbines can reach a house and the turbines are placed to help keep any affects of sound to a minimum.
“As we said at the two council meetings we attended in August, we are aware that there are noise issues with some of the Kingsbridge I turbines and we are working hard to fix them,” said McMillan.
He said that on on the issue of wind turbines and health, they have not identified objective third-party research that demonstrates human health impacts from wind turbines. McMillan said anyone with concerns should contact Lori Wilson, EPCOR’s community relations advisor for ACW, at 519-440-1404.
Comprehensive Zoning Bylaw
Public meetings to discuss the proposed comprehensive zoning bylaw for Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh Twp., have been postponed.
Council, township staff and the Huron County Planning and Development Department have agreed to postpone the open houses and proposed adoption of the new comprehensive zoning bylaw until April or May. Council had scheduled dates in October for the public meetings.
Reeve Ben Van Diepenbeek said this will allow the planning department to complete further work on the zoning maps. He added that the spring dates will give lakeshore property owners the chance to attend the meetings as well.
Notices will be mailed to the landowners, within the township, advising them of the postponement and they will be later notified of the new dates.
Public Works Superintendent
Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh Twp. council has appointed a new public works superintendent.
Brian Van Osch was named to the position at council’s Sept. 19 meeting. Van Osch has been working with the township’s public works department for the past 20 years.
He replaces former public works superintendent Kevin Cook.
By Sara Bender
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