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Wind farm project can move forward

Plans for 86 wind turbines on Wolfe Island in the St. Lawrence River will progress now that the developer and residents have reached a deal.

Canadian Hydro Developers, Calgary, Alberta, on Wednesday signed an agreement with residents who brought an appeal in front of the Ontario Municipal Board regarding a turbine zoning law that the Frontenac Islands Town Council approved in November.

Most of the three-day hearing on the island was spent with attorneys working toward an agreement behind closed doors.

Developers agreed to cap the maximum number of turbines at 86. Setbacks in the zoning law also were increased.

Setbacks from nonparticipating homes were increased from 350 meters, or about 1,148 feet, to 400 meters, or about 1,312 feet. Setbacks from the village and residence district on the island increased from 350 meters to 600 meters, or about 1,968 feet.

“It was a very positive thing. It was improved communication,” said Robert Miller, a Canadian Hydro engineer.

Mr. Miller said the company had never considered more than 86 turbines on Wolfe Island, but residents continued to speculate about further phases. The company’s goal is to complete the Wolfe Island Wind Project by the end of 2008.

Sarah McDermott, one of the appellants, said the agreement was a good step for residents, but she was was disappointed it took so much time and effort.

“As far as how we feel about the outcome, we feel citizens of Wolfe Island are making progress. But also we are doing the job the council should have done long ago.”

Island residents, including a group called Wolfe Island Residents for the Environment, raised money to support Ms. McDermott and James Day in their appeals.

WIRE was formed to keep residents informed on the wind project after appeals were submitted, Ms. McDermott said.

As part of the settlement, a community liaison group composed of residents who are seasonal, year-round, participating and not participating in the project is being formed to communicate with a company representative, Ms. McDermott said. Community members will continue to scrutinize the project as it progresses, she said.

By Kelly Vadney

Publication: Watertown Daily Times (Watertown, NY)

Publication Date: 07/26/2007