Carteret County commissioners adopted a moratorium Monday on issuing permits to build windmills.
The action followed a public hearing in which an impassioned and overflow crowd mostly agreed the county needs more information.
A total of 17 signed up to speak for and against the concept of wind energy in a hurricane-prone county. They focused specifically on the location and plans for the proposed Golden Wind Farm near the community of Bettie. That proposal is now before the N.C. Utilities Commission.
The moratorium passed unanimously and will allow the county nine months to study wind-energy technology and its use and regulation nationally and in coastal areas.
“This moratorium will allow the county time to develop and consider reasonable regulations that would protect current and future residents and visitors, while providing certainty and appropriate protections for future developers of towers, electricity-generating windmills, and similar types of tall structures in Carteret County,” the ordinance says.
Nelson Paul of Raleigh and his wife, Dianna Paul, have proposed building three wind turbines on 33 acres near the North River Bridge that they purchased from her family. They said a nine-month moratorium alone would not stymie the project.
“It will be nine months before we are ready to apply for permits,” said Nelson Paul.
Ernest Filipe of Gloucester, representing Responsible Citizens for Responsible Energy, spoke in favor of the moratorium. He came with 295 signatures gathered over the last two weeks from people who agreed.
He and fellow group member Charles Renda of Otway said public safety as well as noise and vibrations, potential harm to wildlife, and the changes to the skyline and coastal landscape are all reasons to study the technology and site and consider setbacks and more reasonable locations.
They illustrated the proportional height of the proposed 300- to 500-foot turbines to existing Cape Lookout Lighthouse.
Eleanor Gilliken of Bettie asked for a 12- to 18-month moratorium for the county and state to study the technology. She said the proposed turbines are 329 or 464 feet high with 126- or 165-foot blades and reminded commissioners that U.S. 70, near where wind could blow them is the only way in and out of Down East Carteret County.
Stephanie Barber Miscovich of Gloucester, who has been an outspoken advocate for a moratorium, applauded the board’s action.
“Everybody has to pay attention now and be certain that the appropriate codes are written,” she said. Since much of the land is not governed by any building codes for wind energy, the county controls its own destiny.
Filipe was also encouraged but said,“I don’t know is nine months is adequate. There is a lot of information we don’t have.”
Professionals from two large wind-energy companies and a state wind-energy advocacy group were present and offered any expertise they had to Carteret County Planning Director Katrina Marshall.
Many who came had no intention to speak but, like Janice Mines, who owns a bed and breakfast in Otway, thought the issue needs to be further studied.
“This is pretty important for the area, the nation and the world,” said John Schanowauski of Beaufort. It could lead to industrial development in a meaningful industry.
Truq Brown of Salter Path urged the county not to lump small wind-energy projects with large turbine-type wind energy collectors in any regulations they adopt.
Commissioners Chairman Doug Harris said the moratorium has a provision for more or less time should planners need it to draft an appropriate proposed ordinance.
He advised that this is one step toward a possible ordinance on wind mills, turbines, and other wind-energy towers. Any proposal to adopt that ordinance would require another public hearing.
3 March 2008
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