BADDECK – Victoria County council is looking at adopting regulations around the placement and construction of wind turbines and will look for public input in refining the rules.
The county is considering adopting a municipal planning strategy and land use bylaw regulating both large and small scale wind turbines.
The new regulations would apply to the entire county.
Setting regulations around the construction of the turbines falls under municipal jurisdiction, Warden Bruce Morrison said. They have reviewed what has take place in other municipalities. In some communities, the issue of the placement of turbines has been a source of contention.
“There’s a process with the bylaw, however we’ve looked at a number of bylaws from different municipalities and we’re trying to take the focus from those that are most appropriate for our municipality,” Morrison said.
“We have scheduled open houses at various locations in the county … From there, we have a look at what the comments from the public are, make any changes or edits to the draft, and then it goes to public hearing.”
Draft documents have been drawn up and are available for review by the public.
The existing planning document in Baddeck would remain in effect for planning matters other than wind turbine construction.
Setback distances, location, the various sizes of the turbines and noise concerns are among the issues the municipality is considering, Morrison noted.
The warden added that there are a number of issues to be considered by the municipality when it comes to setting the rules for turbines.
“Is there an issue with noise, is there an issue with the location, just the permitting process, who takes responsibility with the turbines if they’re taken out of commission, those types of things,” he said.
Some Victoria County residents are quite keen to see where the municipality will go as it as it sets about establishing a bylaw and planning strategy. Some people have already spoken both in favour of and against turbines, Morrison said.
“That’s why we make it a public process before council ultimately has to made the decision to adopt the bylaw or not,” he said.
Morrison said they see the value in utilizing a natural resource that has great potential but want to do so in accordance with the wishes of residents.
The land use bylaw will differentiate between mini, small, medium and large turbines, based on capacity and height. There are both utility scale and domestic turbines.
The draft states that council feels domestic turbines should be set back from property lines to contain it on the lot if it was to fall. Setbacks would also help protect neighbouring properties from noise, appearance or other environmental concerns about the domestic turbines. Minimum lot sizes would also be imposed, as council doesn’t believe they are appropriate for higher density residential areas.
If owners of more than one residence wanted to share power generated by a turbine, setbacks could be waived.
Under the draft strategy, utility scale turbines are defined as producing more than 100 kilowatts of electricity. Wind farms would be allowed if all of the turbines meet setback requirements. It also states that council will establish documentation requirements to assure that safety, environmental and aesthetic standards are met and noise standards for all turbines will also be established.
The draft planning strategy notes that Victoria County is a largely rural municipality, covering 2,870 square kilometres. According to the 2011 census, it had a population of 7,115.
Victoria County council has determined that there will be two public information sessions where the proposed documents will be presented and the public will have the opportunity to ask questions or provide feedback.
The sessions will be held from 2-5 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. on Nov. 19 at the Baddeck Community Hall and from 2-5 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. on Nov. 20 at St. John’s Church Hall in Ingonish.
Morrison said they hope for good turnout at the meetings.
“We’re very much hopeful that a lot of people will come out and give their comments and have their concerns and questions addressed at those open houses,” he said.
Copies of the draft documents can be inspected at the Eastern District planning commission office located at 32 Paint St., Unit 4, in Port Hawkesbury, between the hours of 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday, or by visiting either ww.edpc.ca or www.victoriacounty.com.
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