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Botetourt’s Planning Commission to hear proposed wind energy permits Monday at CAMS

Next week, Botetourt County’s five-man Planning Commission will hear the Apex Clean Energy proposal for permit and a special exceptions permit to construct the Rocky Forge Wind Farm on North Mountain in northern Botetourt County near Gala.

The meeting will be held Monday, Jan. 11. Because a larger-than-usual crowd is expected, the meeting will be held at Central Academy Middle School at 6 p.m.

Some specifications from the Planning Commission agenda about the permit and location include:

Where: Fincastle Magisterial District: FRALEY FAMILY RESTATED IRREVOCABLE DYNASTY and FRALEY FAMILY IRREVOCABLE DYNASTY TRUST (Apex Clean Energy, Inc., lessees) this property is located north of Eagle Rock Virginia off Dagger Springs Road on North Mountain.

What: Apex requests a Commission permit in accord with §15.2-2232 of the Code of Virginia, in addition to a Special Exception Permit, with possible conditions, in the Forest Conservation (FC) Use District to construct a wind energy system, utility-scale, on two parcels, the first being 4350.00 acres and the second being 1520.49 acres. Approximately 200 acres located within the boundaries of these properties will be utilized for up to 25 wind turbines and ancillary equipment and the related construction, operation and maintenance thereof. The turbines will be no greater than 550 feet in height and are proposed to be located along approximately 3.5 miles of the southernmost portion of North Mountain. The entrance will be generally located on the north side of secondary Route 622 (Dagger Spring Road), approximately 5.2 miles east of the intersection of Route 622 and secondary Route 694 (Gala Loop), to be accessed by a proposed gravel road, identified on the Real Property Identification Maps of Botetourt County as Section 13, Parcel 2 and Section 20, Parcel 3.

Over a year and a little more, Apex has conducted several meetings with area residents, had a public hearing with Botetourt County on regulations and has applied for necessary permits and contacted other agencies to arrive at this point. They have conducted wind and environmental studies on the property. The county has developed a set of regulations to go along with potential wind farms.

The economic impact has been touted for the proposed 25 windmills on the Fraley property. Charlie Johnson, the project manager, said at the December meeting in Eagle Rock, “$4.5 million per year in economic benefit in taxes and jobs and other benefits is expected.” The proposed wind farm is hoped to bring in about 130 jobs.

Regardless of the Planning Commission results, the Botetourt Board of Supervisors will also hear the same at the Jan. 26 regular meeting of the board.