Bath Planning Commission Asking For Public Input On Small Wind Generators
Warm Springs, Va – The Bath Planning Commission has developed a proposed small wind energy ordinance and will hold a work session on it with the Bath Board of Supervisors on January 24th. The Planning Commission is looking to discuss some concerns the supervisors have with the ordinance and it’s also looking for input from Bath residents. Mike Grist is the Chairman of the Bath County Planning Commission.
“I think one of the things that came up is whether or not they can be allowed in residential areas” he says “because if you’re looking at a half acre lot or even three quarter acre lot, what can you allow. There’s new technology coming on every day for smaller turbines, small generators that really just sit on top of a house. Is that something we want in our residential areas? I don’t know, that’s what people are going to have to come and say.”
Small wind energy systems are not for commercial use. They are for residential and farm use to help reduce electricity bills. The planning commission has held two public hearings on the proposed small wind energy ordinance and both were poorly attended and provided little input for the commission.
“One of the issues that keeps coming up is the issue of tourism in Bath County” says Grist. “Along with that comes the items such as view sheds and how are we to handle view sheds and how do we define it. With the wind ordinance, we need to start looking height of towers, can people have it in residential areas, how big are they, how small are they, but we also are looking at other ordinances that would involve – do they fit in the view shed. We really don’t have a good definition for view shed.”
The planning commission frequently holds two public hearings to give people plenty of opportunity to provide input on proposed ordinances, just like they did with this one on small wind energy. Even with additional public hearings the Planning Commission doesn’t get much public input on ordinances, just like they didn’t get much input on this one. The work session on January 24 will give the public one more chance to provide input.
“We sometimes get conflicting goals or interests in the county” Grist says. “We have people who are looking at the county in general, which is important; the tourism, the jobs, how we develop our county in the future to meet them. We have other who are very strong individual property owner rights advocates, and they both need to have their say. We would appreciate it if people would come and have their say, because there are different views of how this county should be handled. It’s not up to us [planning commission], it’s up to the people of the county.”
After the work session, the board of supervisors may send the proposed ordinance back to the Planning Commission for more revision. Or the board may accept the ordinance as it is and set a date for its own public hearing on it.
The work session on the proposed small wind energy ordinance is Monday January 24 at 7pm in room 115 of the courthouse in Warm Springs.