Article

Neighbours blindsided

Neighbours straddling the borders of a planned $45-million solar power generating farm just northwest of the city say they were blindsided by the announcement and fear their property values will drop. Alfie Gray said he only learned Thursday the solar farm would wrap around home. "The thing is going to be wrapped around my house," Gray said. "My concern is the value of my house. Is it going to depreciate because of this?"

Neighbours straddling the borders of a planned $45-million solar power generating farm just northwest of the city say they were blindsided by the announcement and fear their property values will drop.

Peterborough Utilities Inc. announced Friday it would begin construction on a 140-acre 10MW solar farm within a month, situated across the road from the Dobbin transformer station in the area of Lily Lake and Ackison roads.

Alfie Gray said he only learned Thursday the solar farm would wrap around his Lily Lake Rd. home on three sides of his property.

"The thing is going to be wrapped around my house," Gray said. "My concern is the value of my house. Is it going to depreciate because of this?"

Wilma Johnson's backyard will face the field of solar panels. She had no idea the farm was going to be built, she said.

"I'm mad as hell, mad as hell," she said. "We never heard anything. The first notification we got was Wednesday afternoon."

Peterborough Utilities purchased farmland from Sam and Michael Sabatino in January, president and CEO Larry Doran said.

That property was historically zoned to accommodate a solar farm when Peterborough Utilities bought it, he explained.

On Thursday,... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Neighbours straddling the borders of a planned $45-million solar power generating farm just northwest of the city say they were blindsided by the announcement and fear their property values will drop.

Peterborough Utilities Inc. announced Friday it would begin construction on a 140-acre 10MW solar farm within a month, situated across the road from the Dobbin transformer station in the area of Lily Lake and Ackison roads.

Alfie Gray said he only learned Thursday the solar farm would wrap around his Lily Lake Rd. home on three sides of his property.

"The thing is going to be wrapped around my house," Gray said. "My concern is the value of my house. Is it going to depreciate because of this?"

Wilma Johnson's backyard will face the field of solar panels. She had no idea the farm was going to be built, she said.

"I'm mad as hell, mad as hell," she said. "We never heard anything. The first notification we got was Wednesday afternoon."

Peterborough Utilities purchased farmland from Sam and Michael Sabatino in January, president and CEO Larry Doran said.

That property was historically zoned to accommodate a solar farm when Peterborough Utilities bought it, he explained.

On Thursday, Peterborough Utilities entered into an agreement to buy a neighbouring property from Glenn Van Der Werff and Wendy Gibbins. Once that deal is finalized, the utility will own 250 acres of conjoined property.

Peterborough Utilities invited neighbours to an informal information session Thursday night to explain its plans for the solar farm. It announced the plans to the public Friday.

"What we have been attempting to do is tell as many people as we could what's going on and what's happening. That's what we did," Doran said.

Peterborough Utilities has no obligation to inform locals about the project, but Doran said the municipally owned utility wants to be a good neighbour.

"As a good corporate citizen, we're trying to do whatever we can to accommodate them to the extent that's reasonable," he said.

Robert Lamarre, manager of building and plan-n ing for Smith-Ennis-moreLakefield Township, said notification was given to all residents within a 120-metre radius when the Sabatino property was rezoned in 2008.

At the time, the municipality was obliged to hold a public meeting to debate the merits of the rezoning application. A public meeting was held Feb. 12, 2008. "Nobody attended in opposition," Lamarre said. The Ontario government essentially removed municipalities from the process when it passed the Green Energy Act last year, he said.

Any new solar or wind farm proposals are now handled by the province.

"The province is going to be the authority that's going to approve or deny these," Lamarre said. "They are going to happen where they need to happen. A wind farm is going to happen in a windy spot, a solar farm is going to happen logically in close proximity to a transformer."

Living more than 120 metres from the planned location, Johnson never received notice in 2008. She chose not to attend Thursday's meeting.

"We are going to be looking onto it, our kitchen and our pool," she said. "All the neighbours feel it's going to devalue the property."

Gray built his home two years ago and wasn't aware of any future plans for a solar farm in the area, he said.

"I wish I would have had a little notice about it. I didn't even know anything was happening until the day before the public did," he said. "I heard rumours about a solar farm in this area. I didn't know it would be my two neighbours."

He's not opposed to the idea of a solar farm but, as a first-time homeowner, Gray said he is worried about his property value.

"I like the concept behind the green energy," he said. "I'm not an expert, but it seems like we might take a loss on our houses now."

Gray said Doran wasn't able to answer basic questions such as how close the panels will be installed to his property or whether Peterborough Utilities plans to fence the area off.

Doran said engineers will be on the site within a week, but until a preliminary plan is finished, these questions will remained unresolved.

The utility will keep people informed throughout the building process, he said, and neighbours will have an opportunity to give input.

NOTES:The solar farm project will be capable of producing renewable energy for about 1,500 homes each year, Peterborough Utilities president and CEOLarry Doransaid.... Construction is expected to be completed by year's end.


Source: http://www.thepeterboroughe...

FEB 9 2010
https://www.windaction.org/posts/24547-neighbours-blindsided
back to top