Wind farms may soon change the sky-line of Lambton Shores. At a special public meeting last night at Thedford, Council approved in principle, amending the zoning by-law and the official plan to allow wind turbines.
The approval allows rural properties owners to receive hydro from small scale turbines or provides compensation to those who agree to have private commercial units erected on their property. The approval comes with some stiff restrictions. Generally, one turbine is permitted per 50 acres of land. Turbines must also be at least 400 metres away from any off-site homes.
At the end of the day, the approval for these 11 wind farms could assure the municipality an approximate $7,000 in revenue, says Ward 3 counc.Mark Simpson.
This meeting that saw 100 area landowners was the final opportunity for input before council, and senior planner Patti Scherer decided whether wind farms should be a reality in Lambton Shores and where they can be erected.
After hearing concerns and desires council gave their okay in principal with the only struggle the matter of density- whether there should be some flexibility in a policy permitting only one wind turbine for every 19.5 hectares (50 acres). The final policy and regulations and implementing bylaw for approval were scheduled to come up Monday night at the regular council meeting.
Simpson has made it clear from the beginning he has issues with where the turbines are to be placed. He said after Monday’s meeting although he knows this proposal will see be passed he wanted to clarify the assessment impacts of the wind turbines.
“The turbine is assessed at $40,000/megawatt and at the industrial rate,”he explained, “The one acre of land is also taxed in the industrial class however the value of the land can’t be determined on a global basis- they have to factor in what it was previously assessed at or used for.”
Simpson said the turbines produce 1.5 megawatts- therefore the assessment would be $60,000. Using the 2006 rates a turbine would cost the property owner $2,528.30, which is all three levels of taxation,states Simpson adding this would be an additional taxation to the property owner.
“If we used an estimate of $10,000 per acre,” says Simpson, “One acre at the industrial rate would be $421.38 compared to $30.33 at the farm tax rate. To this end, Simpson said with 11 turbines the municipal portion of this enterprise will be a mere $7,000.00.
In her report to council Scherer said as council was aware, wind energy and wind energy planning is a relatively new field provincially and for Lambton Shores.She said they will monitor the impact and effectiveness of these policies and bring forward recommendations for changes or adjustments as may be warranted for further consideration by council.
After Council passes the by-law April 2nd, final approval must be granted from Lambton County staff before turbine set-up can begin.
By Lynda Hillman-Rapley
4 April 2007
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