TRURO - A moratorium has been placed on all non-approved wind turbine applications in Colchester County until council has dealt with the issue of distance setbacks.
The motion for the moratorium was made Thursday night during an emergency council meeting held following a staff decision this week to approve two applications for a total of five industrial turbines to be constructed in Hilden and Truro Heights.
"After the discussion (in closed session) the council agreed to put a moratorium on any applications for wind turbine development until the time the PAC (Planning Advisory Committee) reviews the current bylaw, makes a recommendation to the council and the council effects those changes in the new bylaw," municipal CAO Ramesh Ummat said.
"They said to stop any further processing until the revised bylaw is in place."
The emergency meeting was called to discuss the issue after concerns were raised that no members of council had been notified that staff was planning to give its stamp of approval to the two wind projects.
"It's an absolute, total lack of respect for our committee (council and the mayor)," Coun. Tom Taggart said, after learning of the staff decision.
The PAC decided to review the municipality's wind turbine bylaw after concerns regarding setback distances for industrial wind turbines were raised last summer by a citizens' group known as the Friends of Harmony Camden.
Taggart, who is also chairman of the PAC, expressed umbrage over the decision because he felt staff should have held off on issuing approval until the committee had brought its recommendation to council.
Nadine Thomas expressed concern during a presentation at last week's council meeting over PAC's delay in bringing a recommendation back to council, especially given that her group was told by council that a moratorium on further wind turbine development was not needed.
"We were assured that this would be going before the PAC and that this would be dealt with by October 2012," she said. "I guess that's the way the government works, the wheels turn really slowly and that's unfortunate, I think."
Thomas said her group fully supports "responsible" wind turbine development but it believes the existing 700-metre setback between an industrial turbine and the nearest residence is not sufficient.
"The county bylaw in place has no reflection on property devalument," she said. "All residents are at risk."
And while staff may have had the legal authority to approve the applications prior to the PAC recommendation, from a moral perspective, she agreed with Taggart that the decision should have been delayed until council had fully dealt with the setback issue.
"No I don't accept this is they way they (should) do things ... I mean, it's got to be teamwork, right?" she said. "I would be very embarrassed as a councillor if decisions were being made without you as a council knowing what's going on."
Although Ummat is not directly involved with the pending decision by the PAC, he expects a recommendation will be brought forward to council by this fall.