AMHERSTBURG – Opponents of the South Side Wind Farm project aired their views to town council Monday night.
Council heard three delegations on GenGrowth’s wind farm proposal including one from lawyer Anthony Leardi. Leardi, the town’s former Deputy Mayor, was representing two clients but suspected others in the area of the proposed project near Malden Centre would share similar views.
According to Leardi, he said the The Jones Group – the consultants working on behalf of the County of Essex – stated that renewable energy generation facilities may be restricted or prohibited “in order to ensure that Ontario’s long term prosperity, environmental health and social well being is respected.” Leardi told council they have the authority to dictate size and type of turbines, the number of turbines, the location of turbines and can also prohibit them altogether in favour of alternative sources of energy.
“Consider the option of going with other forms of alternative energy that are less controversial and more acceptable, less expensive and more economical, less intrusive and more compatible with Essex County,” said Leardi.
Leardi stated that turbines can be sited to minimize visual impacts particularly from residences and higher landscape value areas. He said that these are not public utilities but rather private companies and “these private companies can go bankrupt.
“If a turbine company goes bankrupt, you will be stuck with these turbines, sticking way up in the sky and tons of concrete in the ground. It will be an advertisement visible for miles as a testament to failure. So provisions should be made for de-commissioning these turbines just like provisions should have been made for the decommissioning the General Chemical site,” he said.
If turbines are allowed in Amherstburg, Leardi suggested stricter guidelines such as a visual impact assessment, a height restriction of at least 100 feet, setbacks of at least twice the height of the turbine, zones where turbines are restricted and “turbine-friendly” zones and a bond to guarantee the turbines will be decommissioned in case of bankruptcy.
Leardi said that it’s in the town’s authority to place a “holding zone” on land within a certain radius of the Big Creek watershed until the creek master plan is done.
“Then the turbine companies would have the guidance of the Watershed Plan to assist them,” he said.
Jeannette Jacobsen and Cathy Botek each made separate delegations to town council but both held up a model of a turbine and held it next to a model of a house. Jacobsen called it “very convenient” that there are few photos of turbines next to houses. Calling turbines “large and loud”, she was concerned over setbacks and believed there should be setbacks of at least one kilometer.
“More importantly, they should not be allowed near homes,” she said, also fearful of devalued property and health issues.
Botek said there are U.S. locations which have setbacks of at least one mile and stated there are two schools in the area. She voiced concerns over ice throw off of the turbines and questioned who would be responsible should damage occur to her property or if someone was to be injured.
“Who becomes responsible for injuries for ice exiting these machines?” she asked council.
Deputy Mayor Robert Bailey suggested it could be a while before any decisions are made.
“We’re going to need time to digest some of this information. There were some good points made tonight,” said Bailey.Bailey said the process will take a “significant period of time” and that there will opportunities for additional public input along the way.
By Ron Giofu
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