The company that wants to bring wind turbines to Botetourt County can move forward after the Board of Supervisors voted to approve their proposed changes Tuesday night.
The public hearing to discuss the changes took place from 6 p.m. until around 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 26.
The board heard from many people before ultimately deciding to approve a request to raise the height limits for the turbines from 550 feet to 680 feet, to raise the height limit for a substation to 100 feet, and to eliminate the text in the code that put a five-year time limit on the project. They also voted to change the conditions to the special permit, which changed the timeline and allowed the company, APEX, one year to come out with its site plan and five years to finish the product.
Charlie Johnson, Senior Development Manager with APEX, says he’s looking forward to getting the project started.
“Ultimately we’re very excited that Botetourt decided to move forward. This is an important project for our company, for the county, for the region, and the Commonwealth as well,” said Johnson.
At the start of the public hearing, the board heard from the Director of Community Development who spoke about the proposed changes, as well as a representative from a company Botetourt County officials hired to review the proposed adjustments.
There was also a representative from APEX at the meeting. That representative made a presentation about the different benefits the company claims the turbines could bring and answered questions from the board members, which Foster Covington says he appreciated.
“I thought I would come and see what was going on. It’s something I am for. I mean we look at the mountains and you think of it maybe taking away but it really doesn’t. You’ll get used to it,” Covington said.
However, not everyone who showed up Tuesday night supported the plan moving forward. In fact, some wanted to speak out against it.
Bill Vanvelzer has lived in Botetourt County for about 30 years, but says he grew up in southern California and knows a lot about wind turbines.
“I see Botetourt County changing, not that I oppose change, but I think change needs to be smart and this is far from smart,” said Vanvelzer.
“It just seems to me that APEX is looking for an excuse to build wind turbines and to make what they consider a decent return on their money while throwing Botetourt County under the bus.”
Johnson says they expect to start construction by the end of the year and bring in turbines mid-summer of 2021.
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