NEW ROSS – The vice-chairman of Homburg Group says the company will nix plans to build a second golf course in the New Ross area if a wind farm is built.
Frank Matheson told a Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board appeal hearing Friday into the South Canoe Wind Farm that the company had plans to expand its 18-hole golf course in Sherwood by building another just north of it.
Matheson said the nearest turbine at the $200-million proposed wind farm would be 645 metres from the golf course’s property line.
“Not only would that cause turbulence and noise factors but also, clearly, a 50-storey building would be very obvious to people trying to play that golf course,” he told the hearing.
“Instead of looking at nice quiet scenery, they’d be looking at a commercial enterprise of significant magnitude.”
Matheson said Homburg would be so “significantly affected” by the turbines that it would be “impossible to continue with the expansion. It, in effect, would be expropriation without compensation.”
Matheson acknowledged the expansion plans had been discussed only internally, and he agreed with the developers’ lawyer, Robert Grant, that Homburg did not make those plans known to the municipality when it held public hearings on the wind farm.
Company chairman Richard Homburg’s gated home is within the existing golf course property, Matheson confirmed.
He said the company bought the Sherwood Golf Course and Club in 2004 and invested money in it by renovating the club house, making some changes to the course, installing a sprinkler system and building 13 high-end chalets.
“We felt that we were blessed to have such a tranquil and quiet location,” and Matheson said the company expected to attract “significant numbers” of European visitors.
Golf course general manager Andrew Isenor testified that there is not yet enough demand to expand the course but speculated that there will be.
Douglas Foster was the director of planning and development for Cape Breton Regional Municipality for more than 33 years and was deemed an expert witness on municipal planning at the appeal on behalf of Homburg Group.
Foster said the municipality of Chester didn’t have the detailed land information it should have before entering into a development agreement with Nova Scotia Power Inc., Minas Basin Pulp and Power Ltd. and Oxford Frozen Foods Ltd. to build the largest wind farm in Nova Scotia.
Foster said it is “elementary planning practice” to have mapping of an area that includes an inventory of existing and possible future uses of the land and delineates such features as museums, protected areas, wetlands and parks.
He said it was incumbent upon the municipality to look at land use in the area in greater detail than it did, both in the immediately affected area and the general vicinity of the wind farm. Foster said if it had done so, it would have known of Homburg’s wishes to expand.
Foster acknowledged the 1,200-metre setback from homes is “generous” compared to similar projects but said the 200-metre setback for the golf course is not enough because it should be considered as more than just a commercial enterprise.
“There has been a lot of investment in the property” to make it a tourist destination, Foster said, and he views it as infrastructure that “should be considered and should show up in a land-use map.”
Chester’s municipal planning strategy defines a golf course as a commercial operation.
Foster said the proposed wind farm is “an enormous project to handle” and is “the most complicated development agreement I’ve ever seen.”
He said it required “sophisticated analysis” and could reasonably be considered “overwhelming for a small planning office.”
A detailed analysis of land use in the vicinity of the wind farm would have helped staff in the development agreement process, Foster said.
The purpose of a development agreement is to protect adjacent land owners as well as the proponents, he said, and “it’s my position that there isn’t enough information on the land uses in the vicinity of the project to do that.”
The appeal hearing continues Monday in New Ross.
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