BAYBORO – Pamlico County commissioners have two important meetings in the next seven days, beginning with a budget workshop Monday at the commissioners’ room on the second floor of the county courthouse. The public is welcome.
The board also will host a public hearing April 1 on the controversial Tall Structures ordinance, which would govern maximum 500-foot structures such as wind turbines and communications towers.
The ordinance is the work of the county planning board, which recently completed the nine-page document. It was ordered last year by the commissioners after a Florida wind energy company gave a presentation to the board, indicating a desire to build turbines in the county.
Among the considerations are the effects on the Cherry Point air station and its aviation training mission, which includes flight paths over most of Pamlico County.
The ordinance requires that any tall structure developer receive written permission from the military before approaching the county about a building permit.
The ordinance also addresses setbacks from property lines, which were greatly reduced from the original draft, which required a half-mile distance for public right of ways and property lines of land owners not participating in a tall structure project.
The setback was reduced to a maximum of 1,250 feet, based on a 500-foot structure. The rules also were clarified that there would be no setback property lines for adjacent land owners with tall structures built on their properties.
At the meeting to set the 7 p.m. public hearing date, the commissioners had some differences of opinion on the matter.
Chris Mele of Oriental, an opponent of the wind turbines, called the ordinance insufficient and too short. She noted that she had copies of tall structure ordinances that were much more precise. She also pointed out that military representatives had told the board during a previous presentation that federal law prohibits base commanders from opposing the construction of green energy structures such as windmills.
Commissioners Kenny Heath said he was not comfortable with the ordinance until some of the planning board or other county officials had visited a wind farm site.
Commissioner Paul Delamar III, who has been a proponent of wind farms as a needed industry in the county, said it was not feasible for anyone from the county to officially visit a windmill site. He added that if the board puts off a decision on the ordinance waiting for a site visit, there will be no rules in place.
Commissioner Jimmy Spain said he agreed with all the concerns and that he especially wanted to protect military interests.
Mele voted against holding a public hearing at this time, but was outnumbered 4 to 1 in a meeting in which Commissioners Carl Ollison and Pat Prescott were absent. Ollison, also a planning board member, did not attend the final planning board meeting in which the ordinance was finalized.
After the public hearing, the commissioners can vote on the ordinance, although a unanimous vote is required. If the vote is not unanimous, a second public hearing will be required and at that point a simple majority vote of commissioners can pass the ordinance.
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