PRINCETON – Developers came to Tazewell County, purchased land and announced plans to build a $200 million wind turbine project along East River Mountain. After months of debate about topics ranging from economic development and property rights, the Tazewell County Board of Supervisors passed a ridgeline protection ordinance.
However, on Dec. 15, one of the two developers, Dominion Resources, announced that it was acquiring full ownership of the project’s 2,600 acres of land on East River Mountain for the purpose of building the proposed Bluestone River Wind Farm. The second developer, BP, or British Petroleum, is no longer part of the project. Emil Avram, director of business development for Dominion, said at that time no timetable had been set for the project.
Across the state line, neighboring Mercer County currently does not have a ridgeline protection ordinance that would regulate the height of structures constructed atop the county’s mountains. Two people planning to serve on the Mercer County Commission have said that the county should consider such a rule.
“In my opinion, I don’t like it myself,” Mike Vinciguerra of Bluefield said when asked about the idea of wind turbines some day being erected in the county. The Mercer County Commission ruled in his favor Dec. 14 when he contested the election of A. Gene Buckner, who had won the general election in November. The case can be appealed to the Mercer County Circuit Court.
“I’m not for them, no,” Vinciguerra said. “It may be at a later date somebody may convince me they would be good, but in my own personal opinion–I can only speak for myself since I’m not seated on the board– I’d say no.”
Buckner said the county commission should look at the idea of creating a ridgeline ordinance. “I think as a commissioner to be, it should be something they should look at,” Buckner said.
“I’m not saying they should enact any kind of program, but they should look at it and see what their options are,” he said.
The county commission has not had any discussions about whether to create a ridgeline ordinance, said Joe Coburn, the commission’s president.
The commission has had discussions with about the subject with visitors from Bland County, Va., which has such an ordinance, but “that as far as we went,” he said.
Coburn said that he did not know of any entity ever approaching the county with a wind turbine proposal similar to that in Tazewell County, Va. An ordinance is not currently under consideration.
“Well, I think it would be something to consider and see how the people feel about it,” Coburn said.
County Commissioner Jay Mills also said the commission has not made any plans about creating a ridgeline ordinance.
“My position would be is that I would have to get the feel of what the people of Mercer County want,” Mills said. “That’s what I would be basing my decision on. I try to do that on everything.”
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