Proponents of wind generators brought an overflow crowd of supporters to the regular monthly meeting of the Floyd County Board of Supervisors Tuesday, calling the proposed 400-plus foot electricity-generating turbines “beautiful,” and “majestic” and a potential boon to tourism.
Opponents, who also attended the meeting, called the proposed wind generator firms an “eyesore” that they said would threaten the country’s fragile water table and destroy property values.
About 40 county residents packed the small supervisors’ meeting room and flowed over into an adjacent conference room for a 43-minute public comment session that highlighted an escalating public debate over the proposed wind turbines on Wills Ridge in Floyd County. Supporters of the opposing views applauded their speakers when they spoke.
Jerry Spittle of the Indian Valley District called the wind turbines a chance to turn Floyd County into an “energy exporter.”
Kevin Walker of the Courthouse District whose family owns 200 acres on Wills Ridge said he would welcome the turbines on their property.
But Kathleen Ingloldsby of Courthouse District said she moved to Floyd County 30 years ago because of the rural lifestyle and views and that her property values would be lowered by the view of the wind generators from her property.
Ingoldsby, and others, expressed concern over damage to the county’s water table from construction and blasting to build a wind generator farm.
“The water system in Floyd County is fragmented and fragile,” she said.
Wayne Boothe of the Courthouse District said the blasting and effect on the water table also concerned him. For the second month in a row, Boothe presented a petition signed by opponents of the wind farms.
Some proponents of the wind generators urged supervisors and opponents to visit wind farms to “see how beautiful they are.”
Opponents argued that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”
Dave Dixon gave the supervisors notebooks showing the wind generators would be visible from all parts of the Blue Ridge Parkway in Floyd County.
Dixon cited studies that showed travelers along the Parkway stopped less often in areas with wind generators.
But proponents argued that the wind farms would create jobs, add tax revenue to the county, and provide “clean energy” to the area.
Robert Smith, a truck driver who lives in Little River District, says he has seen many wind farms and finds them preferable to nuclear power plants.
“Nuclear power plants are not a good thing,” he said. “Windmills are.”
While county residents differed when it came to support or opposition to wind generators, they agreed more often when it came to zoning. Both sides generally opposed zoning ordinances for the county.
Elmer Underwood of Indian Valley compared zoning to the right of Americans to own and bear arms.
“Telling me what to do with my land is like trying to take away my guns,” he said. “You can try but I don’t think you will like my response.”
The longer-than-usual public comment period put the supervisors behind schedule on their agenda Tuesday, and the board worked through lunch before adjourning in mid-afternoon. At the request of Courthouse Supervisor Case Clinger, the board agreed by consensus to ask county attorney James Cornwell to look into the feasibility of proposed height ordinances for construction on ridge lines and other issues that could affect construction of wind generator farms in the county.
In another matter before the board Tuesday, Supervisors also agreed by consensus to ask the county’s General Assembly delegates and state senators to push legislation to allow the county to impose a meals tax for food served in restaurants.
The town currently has a meals tax—as do many jurisdictions—but the county cannot impose a meals tax on its own. It can do so only with a voter referendum or through General Assembly action.
The board also approved appointment of Bobby Clark as the county’s new, part-time Emergency Services Coordinator. Clark spent 17 years as a Hazmat officer for Virginia and has served with the county’s fire and rescue squads.
“Bobby hit the ground running,” county administrator Dan Campbell told supervisors. “He has many contacts in the emergency services field.” Clark fills part of the position previously held by Ford Wirt, who retired earlier this year.
In other action Tuesday:
—Supervisors approved a $14,700 request from Sheriff Shannon Zeman for modifications to the county’s radio communications system to eliminate interference from the proliferation of Wi-Fi Internet networks near the Courthouse;
—The board appointed Jeffrey Basham to fill a vacancy on the Floyd County Parks & Recreation Authority and reappointed Lowell Boothe as the county’s representative to the Agency on Aging;
—A request from Commonwealth’s Attorney Stephanie Murray Shortt for carryover of $5,814.35 in carryover funds from the Drug Asset Forfeiture Program was approved;
—The board approved a bid for repairs to the courthouse contingent to obtaining a warranty on labor work;
—Supervisors also approved sending out a request for proposal (RFP) to a new contract for banking services of the county;
—The board approved a resolution recognizing September 17-23 as Constitution Week.
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