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MD of Willow Creek to update by-laws to include alternative energy projects

LAWRENCE GLEASON – GAZETTE CONTRIBUTOR
Rules aren’t in place in the MD of Willow Creek for alternate and renewable energy developments that include solar and biofuels.
To begin to remedy that councillors studied Vulcan County’s extensive land use by-law dealing with alternative and renewable energy.
Vulcan County’s by-laws include wind, wind turbines and setbacks and the rules it is adopting for all alternative energy projects within rural municipality.
To further study the issue Reeve Earl Hemmaway and Coun. Ian Sundquist plan to attend a May 3 public hearing in Vulcan County on alternate and renewable energy development planning.
“It is the first step into this new world,” MD of Willow Creek chief administrator Cynthia Vizzutti said. “We have had inquires on solar development and at present are not prepared for this.”
The Vulcan County land use by-laws dealing with alternate energy plans include such details as wall-mounted solar collectors must not create undue glare for motorists or neighbours, and that roof-mounted solar collectors can’t extend beyond the outermost edge of a roof so emergency services ladders aren’t impeded.
“I absolutely guarantee you the 50-year warranty on this MD roof would be null and void if we mounted solar collectors up there,” Vizzutti said.
With the wind gusts the MD of Willow Creek experiences roof-mounted solar panels could be blown into a different municipality, Vizzutti said.
The Vulcan County land use by-law also states developers of a renewable energy projects must conduct public consultation, at developer’s expense.
Councillors also read Vulcan County’s proposed by-laws on where these types of developments should occur, including avoiding native grasslands, and using the least productive land, as well as fragmented and irregularly shaped parcels.
Councillors considered proposed by-laws must also deal with setbacks from public roads and property lines.
Vulcan County’s land use by-law also deals with the abandonment of renewable energy developments, and having a decommissioning plan so a site can be restored to preconstruction condition.
“If these companies go under we are stuck with that and decommissioning is not a simple thing,” Vizzutti said.
Councillors plan to discuss the issue again in May.

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