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Southern District Board member: Dominion plan no surprise

TAZEWELL, Va. – A board member who cast the deciding vote earlier this year in support of Tazewell County’s ridgeline protection ordinance says he isn’t surprised to hear that the developer of a proposed wind farm on East River Mountain is still hoping to move forward with the project.

“I was not surprised to see the article about the Bluestone River Wind Farm in the Bluefield Daily Telegraph,” Southern District Board of Supervisor member Mike Hymes said. “Many residents have asked me over the past year if the project was dead and I have responded that I was sure Dominion would not let the project drop just because of our wind ordinance.”

Hymes said Richmond and Washington support wind energy.

“Dominion has invested a significant amount of money in property in Tazewell County and based on the current pro business political climate in Richmond and Washington regarding wind energy I knew it was just a matter of time before the project was moved back to the front burner,” Hymes said.

The board voted 3-2 in February to adopt the ridgeline ordinance. Hymes cast the deciding vote in support of the ordinance that basically restricts the development of tall structures along certain protected ridgelines, including East River Mountain.

David Anderson, the board’s Eastern District supervisor, voiced renewed opposition to the project last week. Board chairman and Northwestern District supervisor Seth White said last week that he still supports the project.

Dominion announced last week that it is acquiring full ownership of a 2,600 acre tract of land on East River Mountain for the purpose of developing the wind farm. Dominion said BP will no longer be a part of the project. The amended property deed was recorded last week at the Tazewell County Courthouse.

Ryan Frazier, a spokesman for Dominion, told the Daily Telegraph last week that the project can’t be developed without the support of the citizens of Tazewell County and the county Board of Supervisors. The company is asking the supervisors to revisit the ridgeline ordinance.

Anderson said last week that any effort by Dominion to construct wind turbines on East River Mountain would be illegal and in violation of the ridgeline ordinance.

“Should they decide to formulate a new project proposal that complies with our laws and generates real economic benefits to our county, I am sure our board would be glad to work with them,” Anderson said. “Until then, the ridgeline ordinance is the law in Tazewell County. They are welcome to apply for a permit.”