Bath Planning Commission Needs More Input On Viewshed Considerations For Residential Wind Turbines
Warm Springs, VA – Work continues on a proposed small wind energy ordinance for Bath County. During the Bath Planning Commission’s monthly meeting Monday night, there was a joint work session with the Bath Board of Supervisors to discuss and get public input on changes to the ordinance. Supervisor Richard Byrd was the only member of the Board of Supervisors in attendance. He said other board members had other commitments, but they all wanted to proceed with the ordinance and get it on the books.
Small wind energy systems are used to help reduce electricity costs for individual landowners. Planning Commission Chairman Mike Grist led the discussion, seeking input on turbine height, setbacks, lot sizes, locations in residential areas and turbine placement which considers historic areas, ridge lines and visibility.
The commission agreed that more discussion is needed on ridgeline protection and visual impact. Grist said one question to consider is how to protect tourism in Bath. And he asked, where do they set the ridgeline? Claudia Trinca of Bacova was one of five residents who attended the work session and participated in the discussion.
“That 220 Corridor right through the county, should be saved for future generations and everyone knows those hilltops” says Trinca. “When you crest Warm Springs Mountaiun and you look down in the valley, you don’t want to be looking down at a bunch of windmills. And the same thing if you’re coming up 39 admiring the beautiful mountains you don’t want to be looking at windmills. That’s the essence of this county as far as beauty goes and I think it would be wise to preserve it.”
County Administrator Bonnie Johnson said state code addresses ridgelines and suggested getting help on the issue from county attorney Mike Collins. County Planning and Zoning Administrator Sherry Ryder added that 51% of Bath County is federal land, so a smaller number of ridgelines than expected will be covered by the ordinance. And Grist added that one industry can’t be singled out when looking at ridgeline protection. Other things such as power lines and large houses on ridge lines also have to be considered.
The planning commission has wind study maps of the whole county. Planning Commission member Ronnie Dunnagan said it would take 14 years to get your money back on a small wind system today. He said there’s not enough wind in Bath to make systems cost effective. Under the proposed small wind energy ordinance a conditional use permit will be required.
Wind energy technology is evolving and there are now small systems available that are the size of a TV satellite dish. Grist said a wind energy system that small could be considered for residential areas.
In other business Monday night, County Planning and Zoning Administrator Sherry Ryder reported that everything is on track so far for a proposed Dollar General store in Mitchelltown. The store would be located between First and Citizens Bank and the building where The Recorder is located. Ryder said a site plan and an erosion and sediment plan have been done and VDOT has approved the entrance. But representatives have not officially applied for a building permit yet.