The township of West Lincoln may have no say in whether or not two industrial wind turbine projects will go ahead, they do have certain controls on aspects of both projects.
In a report to the planning/building/environmental committee Monday, chief administrative officer Derrick Thompson asked for council’s permission to enter into negotiations with Niagara Region Wind Corp. and IPC Energy, both of which have projects approved under the province’s feed-in-tariff program, on such things as a community vibrancy fun and road use agreement. Staff are also suggesting the township adopt a fees bylaw for public works to implement appropriate overweight permit fees and deposits which will apply to vehicles used in the construction of the proposed turbines and all other overweight vehicles as well as amending the current building fee bylaw to establish an appropriate fee schedule for installation and construction of the turbines.
Prior to the start of the agenda at Monday’s meeting, NRWC spokesperson Randi Rahamim asked that council defer the report until its next meeting to allow for more discussions between their company and the township.
“We would appreciate the opportunity to meet with staff and have a more wholesome discussion,” said Rahamim. “We are willing and able to meet with staff to make this happen quickly.”
However, Thompson said the report does not set any fees or policies and only gives staff authorization to meet with the proponents as well as establish what they feel are appropriate fees and policies. Anything staff decides will still need council approval, he told members of council.
Without expertise in industrial wind turbines, staff are looking to other municipalities who have faced similar situations. In the report, Thompson suggests the township modify the current building fees bylaw to have a flat permit fee of $10,000, which is up from the $5,000 the township would collect under its current bylaw. The modifications would also allow staff to retain engineering advice as necessary at the expense of the developer.
While the township has an oversize/overweight load policy, there are no fees established. Based on other municipality’s fees, staff are recommending the township implement a $250 administration fee with a $7,500 deposit per turbine.
Thompson also sought council’s permission to investigate the decommissioning process, as council has expressed concerns over the way NRWC plans to handle decommissioning of the massive towers at the project’s end. In previous meetings, NRWC informed council they planned to deal with decommissioning by providing land owners with a letter of credit for up to $100,000. Staff are seeking the authority to investigate the concept and, if necessary, seek legal counsel.
IPC Energy paid for the township to hire a consultant to peer review their submission package, which cost $10,000. Township staff are now requesting NRWC do the same, which based on the larger scale of the project, will cost an estimated $25,000.
“We have a right to have high expectations,” Ald. Sue-Ellen Merritt, committee chair, told other members of council.
The report was passed despite NRWC’s request to have council defer the matter.
Prior to approving the report, council received a 265 signature petition supporting industrial wind turbines, which was presented to council at its March meeting.
Three residents, Catherine Mitchell, John Dykstra and Heather Kszan, spoke on the issue of wind turbines. Mitchell and Dykstra requested the township look into establishing safe setback distances and to do everything they can to “protect the health and wealth of the majority of this community” by encouraging the provincial government to ensure property value guarantees for affected land owners.
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