Bedford County may decide tonight to begin permitting small wind energy systems, or turbines, as a use in zoning – a measure that could give residents an alternative source for electricity.
The Board of Supervisors is holding a joint public hearing with the planning commission tonight at 7:30 in the county administration building in Bedford.
Supervisors in early 2010 directed the commission to draft an ordinance that will be reviewed tonight. It proposes allowing small-scale wind turbines as a by-right use in all zoning districts if they meet certain requirements and are not more than 85 feet tall.
Any proposed wind turbine that would exceed the height limit would have to go through a special-use permit process, which means the commission and supervisors would conduct hearings before approval or denial.
The intent of allowing the turbines is for “citizens to use alternative energy to reduce their utility bills,” said Tim Wilson, the county’s director of community development, in a memo to supervisors.
The turbines would also have to be kept “in scale with the landscape” so they would not detract from the county’s scenic quality, the memo said.
The county has similar guidelines in place for the regulation of cell towers to minimize the “adverse visual effect of those structures.”
Roger Henderson, who lives off Virginia 122 in the Sedalia area north of Bedford, has formally asked the county for turbines to be allowed.
The county comprehensive plan to guide development does not specially address alternative energy technology such as wind and solar.
Also tonight, supervisors and the commission will hold another joint public hearing on a request from the Center of Advanced Engineering and Research to increase the height of a tower from 110 feet to 120 feet – the purpose is for a testing program used by Babcox & Wilcox.
The county in 2010 granted a special-use permit allowing the tower to exceed a height limit: the center is undergoing construction at the New London Business & Technology Center on U.S. 460.
Supervisors also will hold a work session on the 2011-12 county budget at 5 p.m.
Today’s proceedings take place at 122 E. Main St. in Bedford.
To view the agenda or the proposed ordinance for wind energy systems, visit www.co.bedford.va.us and click on Board of Supervisors.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding