BAYBORO – A draft ordinance for constructing tall structures in Pamlico County has provisions that require builders to get written approval from Cherry Point air station on projects.
The need for an ordinance was fueled by requests from at least one wind energy company to build 500-foot wind turbines in the county, which covers 350 square miles. Most of Pamlico County is under flight patterns for the nearby Marine Corps air station.
In an earlier presentation to the county commissioners, military representatives said some training flights across the county go as low as 200 feet. The military spokesmen from Marine Corps Installations East said tall structures such as wind turbines present problems for aviation radar and pose potential collision dangers.
Nick Santoro, the planning board first vice chairman, said military concerns were among the key issues.
“Basically, there is a clause that they (builders) will have to get the blessing of the military in order to place them anywhere in the county,” he said. “The military has their own requirements of where their flight paths are, and we didn’t want to get in the middle between the military and the applicant with our ordinance.”
Planning board member Carl Ollison, also a county commissioner, said military approval would be the starting point for tall structure developers.
“Whoever does a windmill is going to have to get it cleared through the military,” he said. “That’s the first hoop they have to jump through. If the military says no, then there is no need for them to come to us.”
Ollison cautioned against reading too much into the draft.
“This is the very beginning of it. It is very preliminary,” he said. “It might be nothing like it is now or exactly like it is. But, we had to start somewhere.”
The rough draft came from a Tuesday county planning board meeting. The planning board recessed its meeting to next Tuesday, when a final ordinance document could be approved.
The nine-page draft addresses wind energy facilities and communication towers, both topped at a maximum height of 500 feet.
Two key county issues are setbacks and assigning responsibility if tall structure projects are abandoned.
Setbacks address public safety and the rights of adjacent property owners who are not participating in any projects.
“You want to allow the landowner to maximize the benefit of his land,” Santoro said. “On the other hand, you want to minimize any negative impacts on neighboring properties. We don’t have a zoning ordinance in Pamlico County, so we have to do this piecemeal.”
The draft proposal puts setbacks at 2,640 feet from public right of ways and adjacent non-participating landowners. That distance is reduced to 1,320 feet with a written waiver by the neighboring property owner.
There are also provisions for sound levels; and the rotor blades on wind turbines must be at least 24 feet above the ground.
The draft also calls for a bond or cash deposit amounting to 150 percent of the cost to remove any abandoned wind energy facilities.
The planning board reconvenes Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the commissioners’ room on the second floor of the Pamlico County Courthouse.
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