Roanoke County has new rules on large scale wind farms.
On Tuesday night, the Board of Supervisors voted 4-0 on the ordinance which has attracted a lot of attention from residents the past few months.
Nearly an hour into the discussion, Supervisor Ed Elswick became upset after the board voted down several proposed changes dealing with noise and setbacks.
Elswick then left the meeting. He told us his fellow board members don’t understand.
“Everybody else that votes lives in an urban area and it has absolutely no impact on their way of life,” says Elswick who lives on Bent Mountain.
Supervisors stressed these are only rules. It’s not a stamp of approval to build wind turbines.
“For months and months now even as quickly today we’ve recieved emails saying a vote tonight approves a wind system on Bent Mountain,” says Chairman Butch Church, “No it’s not that.”
The Board of Supervisors says they have not received any proposals for a wind energy system.
A national company called Invenergy has expressed interest in building wind turbines on Poor Mountain. But the company has not submitted anything to the county.
The sign wars are heating up in South Roanoke County. Competing with political campaigns on some corners, the messages include “Save our Blue Ridge,” or “We support Wind Energy. It’s Patriotic.”
And then there’s the message from the Roanoke Tea Party, “Wind Energy Blows,” on recycled Senate signs. Greg Aldridge is a member of the Roanoke Tea Party. “What we decided to do was come up with a slogan that would capture attention, make people think and start people talking,” Aldridge told News7.
Ed Kinser believes the strongest argument rests on top of Poor Mountain. “It doesn’t seem that anywhere along the way we’ve looked at the ecological aspects,” Kinser said.
Opponents of a proposal that would bring 18 turbines to the mountain want to see more study before Roanoke County approves a wind energy ordinance.
Roberta Bondurant agrees with Kinser. “And I have a concern that the Board of Supervisors doesn’t fully appreciate the treasure that is essentially in their trust to preserve,” she said.
The supervisors aren’t voting on a specific proposal. The ordinance they’re considering would set standards for any future wind power projects. The Roanoke Sierra Club supports the Poor Mountain wind farm and the ordinance.
Bill Modica is the Chair of the Roanoke Sierra Club. “The idea of passing an ordinance is to protect the county’s citizens from haphazard projects,” Modica said in an interview, “and this ordinance I think will do that.”
Paul Mahoney is the County Attorney. “You want to avoid paralysis by analysis. Yes we can study this forever, but at some point in time you have to make a decision.”
Tuesday’s 7pm meeting won’t include a public hearing. Both the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors have heard from citizens before, but Mahoney is predicting a “robust ” debate when the supervisors take up the issue.
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