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Botetourt County seeks wind farm consultant

As plans advance for a wind farm in Botetourt County, the board of supervisors is looking for some expert help.

At a meeting Tuesday, the supervisors voted to advertise for an engineering consultant to help the county evaluate an expected zoning application to build up to 25 power-producing turbines on top of North Mountain.

Although no such application has been made, Apex Clean Energy of Charlottesville is sending strong signals that it wants to build what could be the first commercial wind farm in Virginia. Last month, the company put up two test towers at the site, about 5 miles northeast of Eagle Rock.

Under a local ordinance that would regulate wind turbines, the county can seek the assistance of an engineering firm to evaluate what is expected to be a detailed request for a special exception permit to allow the turbines.

Costs of the consultant’s work would be paid for by the applicant.

After the county solicits proposals from consultants, staff will evaluate the bids and rank them for the supervisor’s consideration at a later meeting.

Since getting word early this year of Apex’s plans, Botetourt County has been preparing for a wind energy project. An ordinance passed by the supervisors in June sets a 550-foot limit on how high the turbines could stand and a limit of no more than 60 decibels, when heard from the nearest property line, of how much noise they could make.

Few people live near the proposed site, and opposition has not been nearly as strong as it was in other localities, where turbine projects were proposed but never completed.