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Resident questions wind study tax use

The Municipality of Kincardine’s decision to use tax revenues to fund noise studies was met with criticism from ratepayer Jutta Splettstoesser, who raised her concerns during an April 17 delegation.

“Many citizens are questioning the recent rush vote to reserve $100,000 per year for future noise studies of windmills,” Splettstoesser said, adding the amount represents about 1 per cent of the expected revenue from taxation.

She said the Armow wind project was in the process to complete approvals when council decided how to use the amount expected, she said to be about $450,000 in property taxes, from the project.

“There are many unanswered questions in regards to a noise study,” said Splettstoesser, who questioned how the study would be designed, who would decide which study will be used, which areas would be studied and how the findings be enforced.

While Splettstoesser’s delegation didn’t include a request for council, she said she wanted to raise these questions.

“My main concern is a responsible council will take time and follow the recommendations to submit a notice of motion first to a municipal staff for advice,” she said. “It is important to address logistical issues and legal implications before passing a motion. I know a motion can be changed, but why rush it and then later on amending it?”

Splettstoesser also said it was “disturbing” that council approved an annual contribution of $500 to the Multi-Municipal Wind Turbine working group in January, and urged council to reconsider the contribution to the “anti-wind lobby group.”

“A respectful, balanced discussion is needed to move forward in our community,” she said.

Councillor Jacqueline Faubert said that an emergency notice of motion was brought forward to council, adding the $450,000 Splettstoesser cited in property taxes is not entirely derived from the municipality.

Faubert said a small portion goes toward the municipality and “the rest goes to the county and the Board of Education.” She added that the project has not yet been approved and thus the questions Splettstoesser raised have yet to be considered.

Councillor Maureen Couture said she agreed with Splettstoesser that council and companies need to be held accountable for making responsible choices.

“Not only are wind companies accountable to council and to the community, the council is accountable to the community,” said Couture.

Deputy Mayor Anne Eadie said she is hoping the municipality won’t need to spend the $100,000 reserved for a future independent noise study.

“We’re trying to be proactive,” said Eadie. She said the money is only put away “if needed.”

“We’re waiting for the perfect wind farm,” said Eadie.

Mayor Larry Kraemer said he believes Samsung-Pattern did not attempt to “sandbag council” by failing to turn over documents addressed to them by NAV Canada.

Kraemer’s announcement came on the heels of a meeting he had with Samsung-Pattern representatives at council’s request.

Kraemer told councillors at the April 17 meeting he been in talks with Samsung-Pattern after learning that a NAV Canada letter indicated 43 of 99 turbines in the proposed Armow Wind development violate current procedures at Kincardine Municipal Airport.

Kraemer said Samsung-Pattern’s response to the letter was “highly technical” adding, “I certainly am not qualified to speak to it.”

Kraemer invited Samsung-Pattern to “give a more detailed explanation” at a council meeting in May, when the wind developers could discuss the implications of NAV Canada’s findings. He said they have attained an expert to explain the issue for the meeting. Kraemer said he was assured Samsung-Pattern “intend to satisfy all of the issues that are raised by NAV Canada.”

Councillor Maureen Couture said she was worried that the May presentation by Samsung-Pattern would be taking place after the period for comments on the project closes on April 25. Councillor Jacqueline Faubert echoed Couture’s concerns.

“Without any solid knowledge of a path forward with this, how can comments about the project be correctly submitted?” she said.
Kraemer said “it is only fair” that council give Samsung-Pattern time to prepare their presentation and answer any questions for the meeting in May. He added that Samsung-Pattern would make their presentation as part of council’s regular agenda and not as a delegation, which is characterized by a shorter time limit.

“They deserve the opportunity,” said Kraemer.