WOODSTOCK – The Woodstock Planning Commission discussed a few changes to town code relating to the construction of a temporary wind turbine tower to be used for academic research purposes at its meeting this week.
The Shenandoah County School Board voted unanimously at its Jan. 12 meeting to approve the proposal and move to the next step of the planning process.
The tower would be constructed in front of Central High and W.W. Robinson Elementary schools on the grassy area off of Central’s cafeteria.
The purpose, according to the proposal documents, is to measure wind speed for one year. Benefits include raising pupils’ awareness and education on wind energy.
The tower is planned to be 66 feet tall and held up by 12 wires attached at three heights to the tower and connected to four anchor points in the ground.
There will be no cost for the project, as the anemometer is to be on loan from James Madison University. The university will cover the construction costs.
Proposal documents dictate that after one year, the wind-speed data will be analyzed to determine if it would be possible to purchase a small wind energy system for the school.
At their meeting, the commission noted three changes to Woodstock’s code that had been made based on concerns voiced at their December meeting.
The first designates that wind turbines may only be constructed in areas where they will be used for “institutional,” medical, educational or governmental activities.
“That’s just to clarify or further restrict where this type of thing would be allowed,” said Assistant Town Manager/Planner Brent Manuel.
The second change states the noise from the turbine could not exceed 60 decibels.
Angela Clem, the town’s assistant planner and risk manager, explained that from data she had found, 30 decibels would be akin to a quiet country residence; 40 decibels similar to the noise at an average office; 50, a quiet automobile functioning at normal speed; and 80, an airplane departing.
Manuel did point out that the town currently has no way of measuring how loud, in decibels, the turbine would be.
The third change increased the minimum acreage on which a turbine could be constructed from 1 to 5 acres.
Clem said that she had spoken with people in charge of the project and that they thought the ordinance was very restrictive, but that “they can work within it.”
She also pointed out that the whole plan has to go through a special-use permit process, in which the commission will have prior review of the site plan and other details.
“It’s going to be going through a pretty rigorous process,” she said.
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