RICHMOND, Va. – Tazewell County officials still have no word on whether or not a proposed renewable energy bill might override a local ordinance prohibiting tall structures on ridgelines.
While in Richmond this week for the county’s legislative visit, officials attempted to clarify whether or not Senate Bill 862 would trump the county’s existing ridgeline protection ordinance, Board of Supervisors Chairman David Anderson said.
The legislation introduced by Sen. Frank Wagner, R-Virginia Beach, would restrict local governments’ roles in regards to Commonwealth goals promoting the generation of energy from renewable sources, such as wind energy.
Anderson said he made several attempts to contact Wagner, but as of Friday, he was still waiting to hear from the senator.
“I expressed my concerns to Delegate (James W. “Will”) Morefield, Sen. (Anne B.) Crockett-Stark, and Sen. (Phillip) Puckett,” Anderson said. “I went to visit Sen. Wagner three different times. I visited him on Tuesday and I stopped by his office twice on Wednesday, as well as left him a message to call me. We were very persistent with him all week. I was also contacted by Dominion, who said they aren’t behind this bill. We haven’t heard back from Sen. Wagner as of yet.”
However, Anderson said he did leave a message for Wagner, including the county’s concerns regarding their own ordinance.
“I let Sen. Wagner know our intent and I want to make sure the bill doesn’t override our ordinance,” he said. “I asked local legislators to look at our ordinance and make sure the bill doesn’t override it.”
Dominion Energy is still hoping to construct a large-scale wind turbine farm along the ridgelines of East River Mountain.
Otherwise, Anderson said the visit went well and was a good chance for Tazewell County representatives to communicate with officials in Richmond.
“It’s always nice to see our legislators and meet with them one-on-one to discuss concerns and discuss our future,” Wagner said.
Bluefield Town Manager Mike Watson said he also spoke with local delegates concerning Senate Bill 862 and the existing ridgeline ordinance.
“We have a bill being patroned by Sen. Annie Crockett-Stark in regards to Senate Bill 862 that will deal with the possibility of the state employing an ordinance that would, for the lack of a better word, trump our ordinance we already have existing,” Watson said.
Additionally, Watson said Tazewell County officials had a chance to talk with a variety of state legislators, agencies and departments on different matters important to the county.
“We shared our concerns with VDOT, met with the Virginia Economic Development Authority, and worked toward clarification of the wind energy bill,” Watson said. “We had a really good sit down about the Spearhead Trail and tourism. We talked with VDOT about residency and maintenance in the county. We discussed issue with the environmental agency about certain infrastructure developments we are having issue with.”
Watson said the visit was a success over all.
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