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No reason to meet for Tall Structure Board

TAZEWELL, Va. – In the two years since it was established Tazewell County’s Tall Structure Appeal Board has never met though officials with Dominion are not giving up on the proposed Bluestone River Wind Farm.

In late 2008, the Tazewell County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to pass a “ridgeline protection ordinance,” which prohibits the construction of any structure more than 40-feet high along certain ridgelines on East River Mountain and Burke’s Garden, Va. The ordinance was in response to an announcement by Dominion Virginia Power involving the construction of the Bluestone River Wind Farm on East River Mountain. In 2010, the Tall Structures Appeal Board was created in relation to the tall structures ordinance.

Tazewell County Administration Jim Spencer said no cases have been brought before the appellate board and there has not been communication between Dominion and the county in approximately a year.

“That board is used if there is an appeal process,” Spencer said. “I don’t think there has been an issue where they needed to meet. We have not talked to Dominion in probably a year or so about that project. We have had no communication with them. No one has had a reason to come up before that board.”

Tazewell County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mike Hymes also said he has had no communication with Dominion.

“It has not met since it was established because we have not had anyone who has built a tall structure in the affected area,” Hymes said. “They would only meet if a tall structure was proposed to be built in the area. The area has several zones covering the entire area. The main zones are Burke’s Garden and East River Mountain. If someone proposed a structure that would be considered a ‘tall structure’ under the ordinance, you would have to appeal to that board. As for Dominion, I have not heard from them and have not solicited any information from them.”

Though Dominion has not appeared before the Tall Structures Appeal Board, Dominion spokesperson Ryan Frazier said the company is still interested in a wind turbine project on East River Mountain.

“Dominion is still looking at the project on East River Mountain as a long-term wind development project,” Frazier said. “We are still conducting wind studies as well as geological studies. There is no time frame for the project at this point. We still view it as a viable, long-term project.”

Dominion Resources acquired ownership of a 2,600-acre tract of land on East River Mountain in 2008 for the purpose of developing the Bluestone River Wind Farm along with BP Wind Energy North America, though sole ownership of the property was handed over to Dominion in December 2010.

Dominion is hoping to develop a $200 million wind project on the property, which received strong objections from local landowners and the Tazewell County Board of Supervisors. According to Dominion, the project would generate $10 million in revenue for the county plus $10 million in local products and services.

The Tazewell County Board of Supervisors passed the county’s ridgeline protection ordinance in 2010 after Dominion had announced intentions to construct as many as 60, 400-foot tall wind turbines on top of East River Mountain.