Monterey Town Council Approves Wind Turbine For High School
Monterey, VA – During its regular meeting on January 5, Monterey council approved a conditional use permit for the installation of a wind turbine atop a 71-foot tower at Highland High School. Town attorney Melissa Ann Dowd told council that the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the permit and explains why town approval is necessary.
“It’s going to be on the north side of the ballfield,” she said. “The reason that it is coming before the town council is because a small portion of the ballfield high school property is located in the town.”
The purpose of the turbine is a joint study project with Highland High School and James Madison University. The high school needed to have all local government approvals before applying for a grant, which will pay for the project. Councilmember Ronald Weimer describes the tower location.
“It’s back between the swimming pool and the back part of the dugout at the ballfield,” he said. Right at the corner – it’s right at the reservoir line.”
Council voted 5-1 to approve the permit, with councilmember Francis Fenn voting nay. Fenn did not explain his negative vote, but expressed concern earlier in the meeting that the council did not have a site plan to pinpoint the tower location.
Council considered the purchase of four welcome signs, to be placed at town limits on routes 250 and 220. Councilmember Tony Stinett presented council with an offer from Natural Stone Signs, of Pickaway, West Virginia, to produce four, five-by-five-foot stone signs, at a cost of $5,750. The signs will say “Welcome to Monterey, Virginia and include a natural mountain backdrop.
Stinett said the signs could be ready for the Maple Festival in March if ordered right away. Council reviewed diagrams of the proposed signs. Dowd reminded council that sign permits and clearance from the Virginia Department of Transportation for sign locations would be necessary. Council voted 6-0 to purchase the four signs, at a cost of $5,750.
Mayor Janice Warner told council that she had met with Bonnie Riedesel, of the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission, to discuss the Upper James River water supply plan, of which Monterey is a participant. Warner informs council that that Riedesel is making requested changes to the plan, as requested by council during its December meeting.
“She is going to redo the things that we talked about here, at the meeting,” she said. “The population and the triggers that we use t identify if we have a drought, when we have to limit water, and what we plan to do if there’s an emergency.”
Warner said Riedesel would send the updated plan to Monterey within the next week for council review. The mayor said a public hearing would be held in February, when council will consider approving the updated plan.
Council discussed reducing the number of town council positions. Dowd told council that a change to the town charter would be necessary to eliminate council seats. The attorney said there were two ways to change the town charter; a public referendum followed by a bill to the General Assembly; and a public hearing followed by a bill to the General Assembly. Dowd tells council the change could be made this year.
“This is a long session, this year,” she said. “So, it is January to March for the General Assembly, this year. So, if this is a burning issue, theoretically, you could get it together and present it to Mr. Bell or Mr. Deeds to go forward with the General Assembly.”
The attorney recommends that councilmembers consolidate all desired town charter changes and initiate the process next year.
“I think that would make a whole lot more sense than doing it piecemeal,” she said. “Then, you’re prepared for next year’s legislature.”
Council agreed to review the town charter and consolidate all desired changes at next month’s meeting.
Warner told council she had requested a preliminary engineering report for construction of a sewer line at the school. The mayor said the town has nearly $168,000 in wastewater project funds available. Warner and Fenn say the money must be spent this year.
“We have $167,999.18,” said Warner. “Things are changing and we need to go ahead and start using that money up,” replied Fenn.
“They think if we don’t use it this year, we’re not going to be able to keep it,” said Warner.
In other business, Monterey council tabled action on councilmember pay policy and approved allowing the Chamber of Commerce to use the town truck.
The next meeting of Monterey council is scheduled for February 2, 7:30 p.m. at the Highland County Library.