The Perquimans County Planning Board is recommending tighter restrictions on wind power facilities, but not the one-mile setbacks that some opponents want.
The recommendation would require a half-mile setback from any residence. The setbacks from property lines and roads would remain as they are – two and half times the height of the wind turbine, or about 1,500 feet or about three-tenths of a mile based on a 600-foot-tall structure.
A subcommittee of the planning board was recommending the half-mile setback include the nearest property line or right-of-way, not just a half-mile to the nearest address.
“I’m not against the project, but I’m listening to citizen’s concerns,” said Brenda Lassiter, a planning board member who served on the subcommittee. “I felt like we’ve comprised and it wouldn’t kill the project.”
The planning board consists of Paul Kahl, Lewis Smith, Donald Manley, A.O. Roberts and Lassiter. Kahl said he did not vote because as a rule the chairman only votes in the case of a tie, he said. Roberts opposed the motion.
The planning board was asked to review the Perquimans ordinance after crowds packed county commission meetings calling for tighter rules.
If adopted, the new rules should not impact the Iberdrola wind power project in Perquimans/Pasquotank counties. It would affect the proposed Apex Clean Energy project that would span the Perquimans/Chowan County line. Apex has not formally sought a conditional use permit but has been working on the project for several years. This month Apex opened an office on Market Street in Hertford.
It is unclear if the Apex project called Timberwind would still be viable with the increased setbacks. Company officials said they were studying the issue.
Under the current ordnance, 4,000 acres would be available to site wind turbines. Under the recommended proposal, that drops to 3,592 acres. If the county were to require a half-mile setback from everything, it would reduce the available acreage to 1,302.
Any zoning change would have to be approved by the Perquimans County Commission. The commissioned agreed in October to impose a 120-day moratorium on the approval of any new wind power projects in order to give the planning board time to study the issue.
Commissioners have a work session set for Dec. 20 but it is unclear if the wind ordinance will be the agenda. The moratorium is set to expire on Feb. 2.
The Apex project features 100 to 150 turbines under the original plan. Each turbine would stand about 600-feet tall from the tip of the blade at the highest point and the ground.
Apex officials say it would not only create green energy for consumers, but would generate annual lease payments for property owners and about $250,000 a year in tax revenue for Perquimans County.
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