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IDA asks supervisors to table windmill ordinance

The Carroll County Industrial Development Authority unanimously approved a motion during its Dec. 3 meeting asking the Carroll County Board of Supervisors postpone drafting a windmill ordinance for a year.

During a September meeting, the supervisors unanimously voted for County Attorney Jim Cornwell to develop an ordinance by January 2013 that would protect the county’s ridge tops.

IDA board member Barry Hicks said he would “hate to see windmills banned forever” without a careful study of the pros and cons. Roger Wilson added that the IDA and the board of supervisors needed “more information” before adopting an ordinance.

“Windmills might be a source of energy down the road we might need,” said Wilson.

“It doesn’t sound like they got much information,” said Andy Jackson of the supervisors. “There have been a lot of studies (on windmills) done by colleges over the last 30 years that would be helpful.”

Vice Chairman Clinton Willie then made a motion that the “IDA ask the supervisors to table windmills for a year until we’ve been given more details and information.”

Windmills became a hot topic in Carroll County during an April 9 meeting when Supervisor Bob Martin said a company from Texas was proposing to place windmills on Stoots Mountain. Multiple landowners had been approached by representatives of EDP Renewables/Horizon Wind Energy about a potential wind energy project, sparking much debate in Carroll County.

In August, the supervisors held a public hearing concerning windmills, and formed a committee to study them. After listening to a recommendation from the Windmill Committee and hearing comments from citizens, Supervisor David Hutchins made the motion for the board develop a draft ordinance for review by its January 2013 meeting.

Joshua Hendrick, a member of the Windmill Committee, said, “From all forms of public input received, more people have spoken out in opposition of a utility-scale windmill project in Carroll County than those who are in support. Reasons for opposition to a utility-scale windmill project ranged from environmental impacts, landscape preservation, to potential health risks.”

Hendrick said information gathered has led the Windmill Committee to believe the largest benefit for the general public of Carroll County for hosting a utility-scale windmill project would be the monies collected through machine and tool taxes. Estimates of such monies have not been verified, however, Hendrick sad.