After months of discussion and debate, the long-planned zoning ordinance for the Eastern District of Tazewell County is finally heading to the Tazewell County Board of Supervisors for consideration. The county’s Planning Commission voted 4-3 last week to move the draft ordinance to the supervisors.
One of the first things the supervisors are expected to do is to schedule an official public hearing to receive input from concerned citizens on the proposed zoning plan. That public hearing is expected to be scheduled for the board’s January meeting, according to Eastern District supervisor Charles Stacy.
The zoning ordinance as currently proposed would restrict certain developments within the Eastern District, including wind turbines and medical waste incinerators. The Eastern District includes all of Bluefield, Va., and the Springville community.
According to Stacy, there are fewer than nine counties and cities in Virginia that currently do not have a zoning ordinance – and Tazewell County is one of the nine. Stacy says the draft zoning plan as currently proposed is still subject to additional change and modification based upon input received and concerns expressed from citizens.
“This is not what is going to be passed,” Stacy said during a public forum on the draft zoning plan last week in Bluefield, Va. “There is still some tweaking that has to be done.”
One company that is not currently in support of the zoning plan is Dominion Energy. The company has proposed the development of a large-scale wind turbine farm along 2,600 acres of land high atop East River Mountain that the company acquired back in 2009.
James R. Tew III, business development manager for Dominion Virginia Power, told the county’s planning commission last week that the project would provide 150 jobs during the three-year construction period and generate an estimated $22 million in tax revenues for Tazewell County over a 25-year period. He argued that the county is letting a good opportunity pass.
However, officials with Dominion also admit that the wind turbine farm will only create 10 permanent jobs, and when pressed last week by planning commission members about an alternate location for the wind farm, Tew said the company only wants to build the project on East River Mountain.
The location of the proposed wind turbine farm has been the primary problem for many citizens in the Bluefield area from the get go. Most aren’t opposed to the concept of wind energy and wind turbines, as such wind farms work well in certain locations. But many simply don’t want to see wind turbines on the top of this iconic local landmark.
One thing is certain. The issue of wind turbines on East River Mountain isn’t going away anytime soon – at least not until a final decision is made as it relates to the proposed zoning ordinance. We know there are opinions – both pro and con – for this project, and it is important for all citizens to let their voices be heard.
Once a date is set for the public hearing in January, attendance at this meeting should be a priority for all concerned citizens. As soon as a date is confirmed for the hearing, the Daily Telegraph will promptly publish it.
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