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Floyd County Board of Supervisors weigh ridge options

Floyd County Supervisors last week told its attorney to give them the option of an ordinance to regulate development along ridgelines or ban such development completely.

Responding to the public debate over proposed wind generator farms on county ridgelines, supervisors last month voted to request a proposed ordinance from county attorney James Cornwell.

Cornwell brought a proposed ordinance to the supervisors’ meeting Wednesday, Nov. 9. The proposed ordinance would allow the county to regulate any construction that exceeded 40 feet over most county ridgelines.

“This ordinance allows you to regulate such construction. It is not a ban. I can construct one that effectively bans such construction if that is your desire,” Cornwell said.

After looking over Cornwell’s proposed ordinance, the supervisors agreed, by consent, that they would also like to look at one that bans such construction before making a decision. Cornwell said he would have one by the board’s December meeting.

The action came after county citizens expressed both support and opposition to the proposed wind farms and a representative from one of the companies that wants to build the generators presented his case.

Andrew Rudersdorf, project manager for Nordex USA, said his company has “considerable experience” in building wind generators and would work with county residents and government to address “any and all concerns” about the proposed project on Wills Ridge.

“We want to educate you and residents of the county on the value of wind generation of energy,” Rudersdorf said. He added that construction and maintenance of the wind farms would bring jobs to Floyd County.

“We would hire locally and send people to Jonesboro, Arkansas, to be trained in maintenance,” he said.
During the public comment period, Cecilia Rudisill of Indian Valley said she and her husband have been approached by energy companies interested in using their property for wind turbines and/or solar power.

“We do need to think of ways to get revenue into Floyd County to help these farmers out,” she said.

William Boothe, for the fourth month in a row, presented a petition with the signatures of county residents opposed to the wind farms. Dave Dixon of Little River thanked the board for looking at ways to regulate the wind generators.

If the board next month adopts a proposed ordinance either regulating or banning ridgeline construction, a public hearing on the issue will be scheduled for early next year.

Also last week Floyd County Supervisors voted unanimously to turn part of the funds collected under the county’s lodging and occupancy tax over to a private group to promote tourism in the county.

The newly-created Floyd Tourism Authority still needs approval by the Town Council before moving forward with $51,000 in taxpayer funds along with an anticipated $20,000 in private and grant funding.

If the authority gains final approval, it would start looking for a tourism director to head the group, spokesman Derek Wall of Hotel Floyd told supervisors at their monthly meeting November 9.

Wall said the authority would operate under a first-year budget of $71,000, with $33,000 going for the tourism director’s salary and taxes and $10,000 slated for advertising on the local, state, regional and national levels.

Also included in the budget is $5,000 for a web site and $2,000 to develop an iPhone applicaton, plus $6,000 in operating expenses, $6,000 for travel expenses and $6,000 for a consultant to implement a Floyd “brand.”

The tourism director would answer to a “tourism authority/executive board” consisting of five members appointed by the town council and board of supervisors and a sixth member from an “advisory board.”

Wall said the advisory board would include a member from the executive committee, one from the community and five from the county’s tourism industry.

The tourism authority, Wall said, would become the central group for tourism promotion and an information center for the county, assuming the roles now provided by Lydeanna Martin, the county’s director of economic development and tourism, and—in some part—the county’s chamber of commerce.

By law, three percent of the county’s five percent lodging and occupancy tax must be used to promote tourism, but supervisors reduced Martin’s tourism budget from $30,000 to $15,000 a year after approving the tax so the $21,000 in funding to the new tourism authority would be more than the county has spent on tourism in recent years.

The Town of Floyd has an additional tax on restaurant meals that will be used to help fund the authority if the council approves the plan at a meeting in December.

The Virginia Tourism Corporation, Wall told supervisors, “has travel statistics that state Floyd County received $18,336,551 in 2009 from travel expenditures ” by visitors to the county. He added that the VTC expects expenditures to top $20,000 by 2014. The figures, a VTC spokesman told The Floyd Press Monday, are “estimates” based on statewide tourism expenditures.

The tourism authority hopes to have a Floyd Marketing Plan ready by May of 2012 and wants to create a series of “weekly events” in Warren G. Lineberry Park during spring, summer and fall months starting in 2013.

Last week’s supervisors’ meeting was moved from its normal second Tuesday of the month to Wednesday because of the statewide general elections.

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