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Two Wolfe Island residents who’ve appealed to the province for changes to the 86-turbine wind plant proposed for their community will appear before an independent hearing on Monday to argue their case.
Sarah McDermott and Dr. James Day filed notices of appeal with the Ontario Municipal Board, which settles land disputes, in late January. Both appellants have hired Kingston lawyer Peggy Smith, who is also a resident of Wolfe Island.
The five-day public hearing is to take place at Sacred Heart School on Wolfe Island, beginning at 11 a.m.
Both McDermott and Day are fighting a decision by the Township of Frontenac Islands last November to pass a zoning bylaw that establishes rules for “setbacks,” or the distances the turbines will be located from homes, roads and animal habitats. The concerned citizens say these distances, set at 350 metres from the village or 350 metres from a home outside the village, aren’t large enough.
If the OMB rules in their favour, it could result in serious delays for the $410-million project.
Canadian Hydro Developers Inc., a Calgary company, has proposed to erect the 90-metre turbines along the western portion of Wolfe Island. The structures will be able to produce enough electricity to power a maximum of 75,000 homes.
The company had planned to have the project up and running by the end of 2008.
Canadian Hydro will have legal representation at next week’s hearing.
A member of the OMB will hear the appeal and may give his/her decision verbally at the end of a hearing or may reserve the decision and release it in writing at a later date, usually within 30 days.
Appellants do have the right to appeal decisions by the OMB, but according to its web site, the OMB rarely grants reviews of its decisions and rarely changes a decision.
Bob Wilson, spokesman for the OMB, said that it will be unlikely that a verbal decision will be rendered immediately after the hearing because of the “complexity of the case.”
OMB hearings run similar to court cases in that witnesses are sworn in and cross-examined, evidence is presented and exhibits are submitted.
The board members who hear the appeals adhere to the provincial plans and make decisions based on those rules.
Earlier this week, the OMB ruled in favour of a major wind project in Bruce County after residents there raised objections to its development because of noise and unsightliness.
About three dozen residents represented by the Windfarm Action Group in the Kincardine area appealed to the OMB to reverse municipal rezoning bylaws allowing the project.
The OMB’s decision permits the project to go ahead but the board directs Enbridge Inc. to reduce the number of turbines to 110 from 132 and to provide a dispute resolution protocol to the municipality within 90 days to dealing with turbine noise.
The OMB ruled the 182-megawatt wind farm meets the existing rules and the Ministry of the Environment has said the development complies with its noise guidelines.
Enbridge Inc. is now moving full steam ahead this summer to begin construction.
The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2008.
Wilson said the ruling by the OMB yesterday on the Bruce County wind project won’t impact the outcome of the Wolfe Island case next week. “It would almost be like saying that somebody killed somebody in Kincardine and a different person went on trial for a different killing on Wolfe Island,” he said. “One would not impact the other.”
By Jennifer Pritchett
21 July 2007
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