Kings County council agreed Jan. 17 to review the Municipal Planning Strategy relating to large-scale wind turbines after a proposal for a Greenfield wind development raised concerns among area residents.
However, there is nothing to stop an application from a wind developer in the meantime. The county has received an application from Glooscap WindFields, a subsidiary of Scotian WindFields, for a test tower in Greenfield and planning manager Ben Sivak said it is being processed. Although council has committed to the review, Sivak said the current bylaw, which allows large-scale wind turbans as-of-right with a 700 metre setback from homes, stands until changed.
At a special meeting Jan. 17, council supported the recommendation from the planning advisory committee to review the strategy. The first step could be an optional open house and questionnaire in February to gather public input.
“We can potentially get to second reading and a public hearing by the end of the Council summer,” planning manager Ben Sivak said. “This is a best case scenario.”
also approved spending up to $25,000 to bring in outside expertise to weigh information regarding environmental and health concerns to provide better information and reduce workload on staff. Sivak said the funding is available from the existing administration budget.
Chief administrative officer Bob Ashley said an independent expert would give an unbiased evaluation of the research. “You can find any research to support any position you want,” Ashley said.
Coun. Wayne Atwater said, “reading the tea leaves,” he thinks people in Kings County don’t want wind turbines. He said he would like to hear from the Greenfield developer at some point. Scotian WindFields is scheduled to make a presentation to council’s committee of the whole Feb. 21.
Coun. Mike Ennis, who represents the Greenfield area, said this is municipal politics and government at it’s best: the matter is important to the community and the residents have spoken. “I don’t think we could do a better job of listening than we’re doing,” he said.
Council also approved motions to write letters to the province and the COMFIT (Community Feed-in Tariffs) program in support of petitions against wind turbines from residents in Greenfield and Canaan, which have 414 names and 268 names respectively. The Canaan petition is against a project proposed by Watts Energy approved by COMFIT for a large-scale wind turbine in the area. However, the municipality has received no formal application.
Public comment controversy
Before special session where council approved a planning strategy review relating to large-scale wind turbines ended, Coun. Ennis moved to suspend the rules and allow concerned residents in attendance a chance to speak. Members of the gallery are permitted to speak for two minutes each on any topic discussed, but only during the public comment period at the end of the meeting.
The motion was approved, but Coun. Fred Whalen called a point of order. He said it takes unanimous consent to suspend the rules of order and the vote was not unanimous. Warden Diana Brothers said she questioned this, but sided with Whalen since she had been challenged as the meeting chairwoman. Brothers apologized to the audience, but reminded people they could stay and speak at the conclusion of the agenda.
At the end, Betty Jordan, who owns a farm on Davidson Street, said she wants to draw attention not only to human health concerns, but animal health concerns as well. She said wind turbines have caused deformities and birth defects in animals.
“Kings County is a huge agricultural district and all farms are important,” she said.
County resident Linda O’Neill added her comments, congratulating council for showing support to the residents of Greenfield.
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