Sprott Power Corp. has taken its battle to build a $60-million wind farm in the Annapolis Valley to Nova Scotia Supreme Court.
The Toronto-based company building the Hampton Mountain wind farm had filed an appeal earlier this month with the provincial regulator of a decision made last month by a development officer with the Municipality of the County of Annapolis not to renew 12 building permits for properties located in Arlington, Arlington West and Hampton in Annapolis County.
But Sprott has since decided a courtroom is a better place for the appeal.
“The chief building official erred in interpreting the Building Code Act and regulations and the Annapolis County building bylaw to authorise a refusal to renew building permits on the basis of a new land use bylaw being in force as at the renewal date, when the right to the permits had previously vested and the administrative requirements for renewal had been complied with,” according to court documents made public Thursday.
The county official mistakenly interpreted regulations “to require more extensive construction than (Sprott) had carried out,” according to the notice of appeal.
The same official also failed to take into account that Sprott had only carried out as much construction work as it was authorized by the province’s environmental authorities, say court documents.
Leon Sabean is one of several local residents leasing land to Sprott for the wind project.
“As far as I’m concerned it’s crazy,” Sabean said Thursday of the development officer’s decision not to renew the building permits.
People have complained about potential noise from the turbines, and the possibility of sun flickering off the blades or ice forming on them and then flying off, and “all kinds of foolishness like that,” he said.
“We have a few people come here in the summertime for maybe two or three weeks or a month and they just don’t want them,” he said. “They don’t like the looks of them.”
But the project will create jobs in the area and tax dollars for the county, Sabean said.
“Not only that but we’ve got a chance to get rid of all our dirty coal that we’re importing from other places,” he said. “We’re sitting pretty if they let us do it.”
Sprott wants a judge to set aside the decisions nixing its permits. The case is slated to be in court May 18.
“In March 2011 the appellants applied for renewals of building permits respecting the affected properties which had been originally issued by the building inspector of the Municipality of the County of Annapolis on March 9, 2010,” say documents the company filed earlier this month with the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board.
“The municipality did not have in place a land use bylaw prohibiting the construction and use of large-scale wind turbines on the affected properties until May 13, 2010. The Annapolis County land use bylaw effective May 13, 2010, purported to preclude the erection of large-scale wind turbines on the affected properties. The decisions under appeal treated the renewal application in 2011 as though it were an original building permit application.”
Sprott has told the URB that court is “unquestionably” the right place to argue the appeal.
“Sprott’s position is that both of the impugned decisions of the chief building official are reviewable by way of statutory appeal to the Supreme Court,” say documents filed with the regulator.
“If Sprott is found to be correct, the UARB proceedings challenging the decision of the development officer are moot.”
Sprott said it went to the board first “out of an abundance of caution,” according to documents filed with the regulator. “The developments involve multimillion-dollar projects and the stakes are far too high for Sprott to risk an ultimate determination that the Supreme Court is the wrong forum in which to challenge one of these decisions.”
Sprott was given provincial environmental approval earlier this year to install 12 two-megawatt towers but was informed it has to move four turbines that may interfere with recreational enjoyment and health. The project is located about four kilometres north of Bridgetown.
Sprott executed an asset purchase agreement earlier this year to acquire Amherst Wind Power LP, including the company’s 30-megawatt power purchase agreement with Nova Scotia Power Inc.
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