Last updated: May 31. 2013 10:48PM - 276 Views
Michael Howlett
Staff Writer

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Windmills will once again be a key subject when the Carroll County Board of Supervisors hold a public hearing during their regular scheduled meeting on Aug. 13.

Although windmills were a hot topic following an April 9 meeting of the board, Laurel Fork District Supervisor Joshua Hendrick said “Since that time I haven’t had anyone approach me.”

That’s one reason Hendrick hopes a large crowd turns out for the supervisors’ meeting, so the board can get a good idea of how the county’s citizens feel about windmills.

“I want people to show up whether they’re for it, or against it. I want to hear what everybody has to say,” said Hendrick. “Hopefully, we’ll get people not only from just the Stoots Mountain area, but the whole county. I’d like to see people from a good cross section. This ordinance will be for the entire county.”

Although he hasn’t had a lot of people mention the windmill topic lately, Pine Creek District Supervisor Bob Martin said, “I think they’re just biding their time. I think there would be a tremendous amount of interests if we said we said we were going to put windmills in the county. The Stoots Mountain people will be very concerned. My take on it right now is that the most of the people would not be for it, but that’s the reason you have a public hearing.”

Martin’s own feeling is that “windmills are just not practical in Carroll County from a financial standpoint,” adding, “when you look at the wind power, I’m told it’s a marginal thing. Power lines will have to be attached to them to tie them in with the Appalachian power grid, so there are more power lines. You can probably generate more power from one ton of coal than all the windmills we can put in the county.”

In addition, Martin said windmills would detract from the beauty of our area and be a danger to birds, some of which are protected by federal law.

The windmills, some of which could be as tall as 495 feet, would be easily visible from several areas of the county, said Martin. “From the Laurel community down toward Fowler’s Ferry, you could see the windmills, and if you don’t see them, you would hear them. If we allow windmills, in a year and a half this place will be filled. We’re not New York City and I don’t want us to be. The beauty of this area is what brings a lot of people here.”

In addition, Martin notes that the windmills would present dangers to migratory birds, as well as some eagles that nest in Carroll County.

“Windmills may be the best thing since sliced bread, but I’m real skeptical. If Moses comes in with an 11th Commandment saying ‘Thou shalt have windmills,” I’d would rethink my position,” said Martin.

The subjects of windmills first came up during that April 9 meeting when Pine Creek District Supervisor Bob Martin noted that a company from Texas was proposing to place windmills on Stoots Mountain. Although Martin didn’t call the company by name, landowners in the area had told multiple media sources they had been contacted by representatives of EDP Renewables/Horizon Wind Energy about a potential wind energy project.

A disagreement then arose since the topic of windmills had been discussed in closed session. Chairman Sam Dickson said the matter should not be discussed in open session. Since the company had already contacted county landowners and held a community meeting, Martin said it had “went beyond executive session.” Dickson replied that a discussion of a specific company would be inappropriate, but that a discussion about windmills in general and an ordinance that would pertain to them would be reasonable.

Hendrick said he felt Carroll County needed an ordinance to govern windmills, and asked County Attorney Jim Cornwell about the ordinances he had written for Floyd County. Cornwell responded that he wrote two ordinances, one to regulate windmills and another to prohibit them. He then offered to provide a copy of each to the supervisors for their review.

On May 23, Martin and Hendrick, who formed the supervisors’ windmill committee met to discuss further action.

At that time, Martin said he had been “deluged with phone calls asking when we are going to have a public hearing.”

Hendrick added “I’ve had a lot of people approach me, some saying ‘I’m for it’ and others saying “I’m against it.”

It was at that meeting, that setbacks, the area on each side of a windmill that must remain clear of any structures, were discussed.

Martin said an article he read stated that Canada required a 1,250-foot setback on each side of a windmill. “That raised a red flag with me,” he said.

Hendrick said it was his understanding that the setback needed to be “three times the height of the windmill. If the windmill is 300-feet tall, you need 900 (feet of setback), if it’s 400-feet tall, you need

In addition, Martin pointed out that some landowners on Popular Camp Mountain had been approached by the same company since the supervisors’ previous meeting.

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