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Bland board shares wind ordinance with neighboring counties

BLAND, Va. – The renewed interest in the development of wind energy in southern West Virginia and southwestern Virginia prompted officials of Bland County to share the text of their wind energy facility ordinance with county governments in neighboring counties.

“The intent of our ordinance isn’t to keep them out,” Henry Blessing, chairman of the Bland County Board of Supervisors said. “Ours is designed to tell them how they can erect them in Bland County.

“We had several public hearings when we were considering our ordinance, and I don’t know of anybody who came forward and expressed opposition to our ordinance,” Blessing said. “All our ordinance does is to tell a developer how they can build a wind energy facility here.”

Blessing said that Bland County’s wind energy facility ordinance is “pretty restrictive, but it’s not meant to keep them out.” The ordinance requires the wind energy facility developer to submit a plan including detailed, accurate location information, for approval by the county zoning administrator.

The proposed facility will not be allowed to interfere with radio, television or communications reception; must meet safety requirements; and shall have a setback distance from the property line of a distance of one and one-half times the height of the proposed structure and the ordinance prohibits advertising of any kind on the wind energy facility.

The ordinance also requires that the wind energy facility be dismantled by the owner if not used in a 24-consecutive month period; requires a “balloon” computer simulation demonstration of the height of the structure; must provide ownership information to the county Commissioner of Revenue annually; must provide emergency contact information available 24 hours per day among other basic requirements. The Bland County wind energy facility ordinance also limits structures to 100 feet in height; and no more than two turbines can be located on the same tax map parcel.

“We were looking ahead when we developed our ordinance,” Blessing said. “We believe in being good neighbors, and so we shared our ordinance with neighboring counties.”

Blessing said that the public had plenty of opportunities to protest the ordinance as it was being developed, and will continue to attend public hearings in the event a developer wants to consider erecting a wind energy facility in the county.