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Wind farm turbines coming just over border  

MARYSVILLE, Ontario – A proposed wind farm is slated to change the landscape of Wolfe Island in 2008, but the company behind the project still needs to clear some red tape.

John D. Keating, CEO of Canadian Hydro Developers Inc, Calgary, Alberta, said there has been little opposition to the Wolfe Island Wind Project.

But residents have made two appeals to the Ontario Municipal Board concerning setbacks for the proposed eighty-six 2.3-megawatt turbines that would sit on the west side of the island.

The island, where Lake Ontario meets the St. Lawrence River, is the largest of the Thousand Islands at 48 square miles. Together with Howe Island and Simcoe Island, it forms the township of Frontenac Islands, Ontario.

In November, the Frontenac Islands Town Council passed a zoning law that set turbines at least 350 meters, or about 1,150 feet, from homes, according to the Whig-Standard newspaper of Kingston, Ontario.

Sarah C. McDermott, a resident of Marysville, made one of the appeals.

“I think initially the whole island was for it,” she said of the project. “We’re for green energy, but we want to make sure the process has gone through properly.”

She said the Town Council approved the zoning without considering studies of Canadian Hydro’s wind farm in Melancthon, Ontario, that indicated setbacks of 400 meters, or about 1,500 feet, are needed. While her appeal asks for a 400-meter setback, Ms. McDermott ideally would like a 2-kilometer setback, which is about 1.25 miles.

The other appeal was made by Dr. James Day, according to the Whig-Standard. The paper reports that he would like setbacks from wetlands and environmentally sensitive areas.

Ms. McDermott added that the company has not released maps of turbine locations to the public. She said owners of land where turbines are proposed have leaked maps to the community. In addition to setback concerns, some residents also worry about effects on migratory birds and wetlands, she said.

Since the Town Council already has approved the project and passed zoning laws, the Ontario Municipal Board will consider the appeals. Mayor Jim M. Vanden Hoek said the project also has to go through an environmental review process, which the town government has no control over. The Ontario Ministry of the Environment handles those reviews.

Mr. Vanden Hoek said most residents support the project, as he does. The mayor expects the project will come to fruition, possibly with greater setbacks as a result of the appeals.

Ms. McDermott said that while residents have not organized themselves into a group to oppose the wind farm, surveys were sent out concerning setbacks when the appeal was submitted. Most residents, Ms. McDermott said, indicated they are concerned about setbacks.

Canadian Hydro Developers is holding two open houses on the project, one in Kingston and one on Wolfe Island, as part of the environmental review process this week.

Mark R. Rabior, a spokesman for the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, said the developer has not yet turned in environmental documents for review. The upcoming meetings, he said, are part of a screening process in which the company can gather input from the public before submitting information to the ministry.

Mr. Keating said the wind farm would offer much-needed economic development while preserving the rural characteristics of the area.

“A wind plant in rural environments ensures that way of life will be maintained,” he said.

Mr. Keating said the wind farm would create eight to 12 full-time jobs on the island. The company also would hire several contractors, for work such as pouring concrete and doing electrical and plumbing work.

He declined to release maps of turbine locations to the Times, but he said they may be on display at the open houses.

By Kelly Vadney

Publication: Watertown Daily Times (Watertown, NY)

Publication Date: 03/27/2007

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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