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Pamlico County Wind Energy Ordinance nears approval

BAYBORO – After 14 months and three public hearings, an additional simple majority vote will be needed for Pamlico County commissioners to approve a Wind Energy Ordinance.

Six of seven commissioners in attendance Monday night voted for the ordinance that will govern the possible construction of 500-foot wind turbines in the countryside.

But, because the newest version of the ordinance had additional language since the last public hearing, it was legally considered a first reading and required a unanimous vote by all seven members. Commissioner Kenny Heath was unable to attend the Monday meeting.

A simple majority vote at the next meeting in two weeks is expected to make the ordinance local law.

The saga of potential wind mills dotting the county non-municipal landscape dates back to an August 2012 presentation by a Florida company – now out of business. The commissioners sent the matter to the planning board for an ordinance.

Concerns about noise and disruptions for adjacent land owners were among the contested items, although the major item of contention has been the possible detrimental effects on Marine aviation training over the county by nearby Cherry Point air station.

The matter was voted down once by the commissioners, drew a smattering of public response and was finally put to a near agreement last month. That came after the other board members agreed to additional language for public and military protection, introduced by longtime windmill opponent, Commissioner Christine Mele.

With the new language in place and no public response Monday night, it was Mele who made the motion to adopt the ordinance. It was seconded by Commissioner Paul Delamar, who has been a supporter of wind turbine power as an economic development opportunity for the rural county, with little industry.

Mele’s additional language in the ordinance was inserted in two sections of the application review and approval process section.

It specifies that both the planning board and commissioners consider four requirements before approval of a wind turbine farm project.

It includes if the project “would encroach upon otherwise have a significant adverse impact on the mission, training, or operation of any major military installation or branch of military in North Carolina and result in a detriment to continued military presence in the state.”

It tells the planning board to consider whether it would cause interference with air navigation routes, air traffic control areas and military training routes.

The added language also addresses impacts to ecological systems, natural resources, cultural sites, recreation area and historic sites.

A third item addresses adverse impacts on fish or wildlife and a fourth notes it should have no significant adverse effects on the general public.

The Pamlico board meets again on Oct. 21 at 7 p.m. on the second floor of the county courthouse.