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Huron East passes bylaw amendment to match zoning for turbines with GEA  

Credit:  By Susan Hundertmark, www.seaforthhuronexpositor.com 26 September 2011 ~~

After debate about whether the municipality would be challenged in court, Huron East council decided to pass a housekeeping zoning amendment at its Sept. 6 meeting that matches Huron East’s minimum setback for wind turbines with the Green Energy Act.

The amendment increases Huron East’s current setback of 350 metres to match the GEA’s minimum setback of 550 metres and includes a chart from the GEA outlining setbacks for an increasing number of commercial scale wind energy facilities and their sound power levels up to 1,500 metres.

While councillors wanted to increase the setback to match the GEA standard to ensure a 550-metre distance is in place if authority for wind turbine setbacks is returned back to the municipality, Huron County planner Sandra Weber told them the GEA has taken away the municipality’s power to regulate setbacks and therefore, Huron East doesn’t have the authority to pass the zoning amendment.

“This may not be legal and may not be held up if challenged in court,” she said, recommending that Huron East defer the zoning amendment until it has authority to pass it.

Mayor Bernie MacLellan asked if the rules changed tomorrow, would Huron East be able to put a hold on wind turbines so that no one could develop a commercial wind turbine project with the 350 setback before council could address the issue.

Weber said the municipal solicitor Greg Stewart advised her that there would likely be a transition period if the GEA were no longer in effect to allow municipalities to get their bylaws in order.

Grey Coun. Alvin McLellan said matching Huron East’s zoning to the GEA made more sense to him now than when and if the GEA were ever struck down.

“It may be that the Green Energy Act is in effect for ever and ever. It’s better to do the housekeeping now,” he said.

McKillop Coun. Andrew Flowers said Huron East is in a Catch-22 situation.

“Basically, we’re agreeing to the Green Energy Act so we’re not doing anything wrong. It all depends on your lawyer,” he said.

“This is just aligning us to provincial policy – they can’t take us to court for doing that,” agreed McKillop Coun. Bill Siemon.

Tuckersmith Coun. Larry McGrath said he would vote against the housekeeping zoning amendment because it didn’t go far enough.

“If we’re going to change it, I think it should be 1,000 metres, not 550,” he said.

Choosing the right tanker

A dispute between Grey District Fire Chief Gary Boyer and Huron East Fire Chief Marty Bedard about the best new fire tanker to buy had Huron East council tabling a recommended proposal at the Sept. 6 council meeting until the two could talk the issue over again.

Bedard recommended one of six trucks quoted in a request for proposal process that had an Aug. 5 deadline but Boyer told council that his firefighters were interested in a truck that was not submitted in time for the deadline.

“This is not a truck the fellows are comfortable with,” said Boyer of the recommended $189,500 proposal from ResQTech Systems Inc.

Bedard said the Grey firefighters specified they wanted extra compartments and a heavier suspension on their new tanker since the department doesn’t have a rescue van and carries its extra equipment on its pumper and tankers.

Mayor Bernie MacLellan pointed out that while it’s Boyer’s job to talk to his firefighters about their needs, it’s Bedard’s job to communicate with Boyer and with the municipal council.

“I’m not comfortable telling Marty he has to buy a specific truck. It’s up to our manager to make the proposal, not up to us to tell him. If he gets a truck that has the right equipment on it, it doesn’t matter where that truck comes from,” said MacLellan.

While councillors suggested letting the current RFPs expire and starting a new tendering process, McKillop Coun. Andrew Flowers warned against any precedence that would not respect the tender process.

Grey Coun. Alvin McLellan added that council has to also respect the wishes of the fire department.

“I don’t care what truck it is as long as it has what the guys want. If I settle for anything less, I let them all down and that’s not acceptable in my eyes,” said Boyer.

MacLellan suggested that Bedard and Boyer sit down again and resolve the issue before the next council meeting but warned that they still must stay within the $200,000 budgeted for a new Grey tanker.

“I want you to put your heads together and figure out who can give you the most you want for the best price. But, don’t give us a wish list that only one company can provide,” he said.

Source:  By Susan Hundertmark, www.seaforthhuronexpositor.com 26 September 2011

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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