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Wind farm OK in shield zone, Brookfield argues  

PRINCE – A Prince resident received answers to numerous questions she asked council earlier about why Brookfield Renewable Energy Inc.’s wind farm, a major industry, ended up in the shield zone, and what sort of tax revenue the wind farm brought to the township.

Answers to Amy Zuccato’s questions, asked at a previous council meeting, arrived in a two-page report, headed Issues Related to Wind Turbines. It was prepared for council by former Prince administrator Rachel Tyczinski, currently with Ironside Consulting Inc.

In response to Amy Zuccato’s question on how Brookfield was allowed to erect 61 wind turbines in the shield zone, Tyczinski singled out Section IX-3 of Zoning Bylaw 77-7, which exempts power utilities from the ban on industrial development in the shield zone.

Section IX-3 states in part that, “Nothing in this bylaw shall prevent the use of land or the use or erection of a building or structure for . . . the structure and works of any power company and other utilities companies supplying local servicing to the township.”

On questions concerning wind farm tax revenues, Tyczinski’s report indicated that the wind farm is taxed at the industrial rate, which in 2007 totalled more than 2.7 per cent, 1.2 per cent for the municipal levy and 1.5 per cent for the educational levy.

Last year’s industrial assessment for the wind farm topped $3.5 million, which worked out to just under $97,000 in property taxes, according to figures supplied by Tyczinski.

The larger share, some $54,000, went to pay the educational levy, which is higher for industrial assessment than for residential assessment of the same value.

That left Prince with about $42,500 in wind farm taxes for 2007, Tyczinski said.

In response to Zuccato’s question about how residential properties in the shield zone are taxed, Tyczinski said they are assessed at the township’s residential rate under the Current Value Assessment system.

As for Zuccato’s concerns about the No Trespassing” signs she had seen along roads leading into the shield zone, Tyczinski said the township did not want to spur a demand for shield zone development by building more public roads, which would then have to be maintained at the township’s expense.

When the long-term (50-year) leases for Brookfield’s wind farm were approved in 2004, the township’s committee of adjustment required that access to any properties leased by Brookfield be “by way of a gated private road or an existing public road,” Tyczinski said.

Zuccato asked why was Prince’s industrial tax ratio (as compared to the constant residential ratio, which is always 1.00) set at just 1.11?

Zuccatto said she had visited the Municipal Property Assessment Corp. office in Sault Ste. Marie and learned that other municipalities, such as Schreiber, Ont., had an industrial ratio of 1.63.

“Ours is lowest in all of Ontario,” Zuccato said. “If you increase the industry rate to more of the level of everyone else, we may not have any residential tax increase.”

Appealing as Zuccato’s suggestion sounded, it would violate Ontario Regulation 386/98 of the Municipal Act, said Coun. Bobbi Williamson in a separate e-mail interview.

Regulation 386/98 sets out the allowable range of tax ratios, which falls between 0.6 and 1.1 for industrial properties, Williamson said.

This means Prince’s industrial tax ratio is already at the maximum allowable level.

“If your ratio is outside the range, it can stay that way, but if you want to change it, you can only reduce it,” Williamson said.

Posted By Marguerite La Haye

The Sault Star

4 June 2008

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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