Carteret County has two meetings scheduled in early January that will advance discussions of regulations for locating wind turbines in the county.
The Carteret County Board of Commissioners will hold a public hearing 6 p.m. Jan. 2 at the Crystal Coast Civic Center in Morehead City to hear public comments about a possible temporary ban up to 60 days on any new permits for wind-energy generation in Carteret County.
Commission Chairman Jonathan Robinson said the board hopes to get as much input as possible from the public.
“There have been a lot of concerns for public health, safety and welfare,” Robinson said. “We’ll hold the public hearing and see what direction the citizens give us.”
The moratorium’s purpose would be to give the board an opportunity to review – and possibly revise – existing ordinances that regulate wind-energy farms.
Discussions of a need to strengthen regulations have surfaced along with debate over a proposed wind-energy farm that would house about 40 industrial wind turbines on more than 7,000 acres outside of Newport.
The plans, known as the Mill Pond Project, have sparked concerns about the impact of the turbines on military flight-training at Cherry Point; the county’s tourism industry; and the health and safety of surrounding residents.
County commissioners cannot take action on the moratorium before the Jan. 2 public hearing, but they are preparing for a review of the county’s ordinances regarding wind-energy generation.
The board will hold a joint meeting with the Carteret County Planning Commission Jan. 6 to discuss the county’s tall-structures’ ordinance. The meeting begins at 5 p.m. in the boardroom at the county’s administration building in Beaufort.
During recent community forums, one of the issues raised is the need to strengthen the county’s ordinance and the new tall-structures’ ordinance adopted by the Town of Newport.
John Droz of Morehead City, a retired physicist who has researched environmental-energy issues, organized the two recent community forums and has presented findings critical of wind energy and the proposed Mill Pond project.
Droz has suggested ways to improve the tall-structures’ ordinance, including increasing setbacks to one mile, strengthening acoustical limits and ensuring only county commissioners can grant waivers to any terms of the ordinance.
Robinson said Carteret County developed one of the state’s first tall-structures’ ordinances five years ago and he anticipates recommendations for revisions to come from comments at the public hearing.
The ordinance was adopted in 2008 as a smaller wind-energy project with three wind turbines was being proposed in the Down East community of Bettie.
A nine-month moratorium was approved at that time to give the board time to develop the tall-structures’ ordinance.
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