Sunday, May 15, 2011

Roanoke County "Utility Scale Wind Turbine" Ordinance Amendment Deliberation & Review


(NOTE: Comments in blue are differentiated as they are county staff comments in an advisory capacity)

Mr. Thompson reviewed changes made by the commissioners to the proposed ordinance, including increasing setbacks and changing wording from “increase” to “modify.”

Mr. Peters spoke in favor of 110% setbacks, stating increasing setback to 400% would discriminate against large energy resources

Mr. McNeil spoke in favor of110% setback and adjusting setback during special use permit process.

Ms. Hooker stated 400% is a good safety net and can be altered either way during special use permit process. She discussed the importance of setting high standards and placing the burden of proof on the petitioner.

Mr. Jarrell stated 110% is an acceptable standard, noting each application will be site specific.

Mr. McNeil stated he understands concern and suggested having setback one-half mile from any existing opposing resident.

Ms.Hooker discussed enforcement difficulty.

Mr. Jarrell stated the issues can be addressed during the special use permit process.

Mr. Thompson discussed allowing a maximum noise level of 40 decibels which was

suggested by the commissioners.

Mr. McNeil suggested allowing 60 decibels which is the same as in the small wind ordinance.

Mr. Peters discussed issues regarding measuring decibel levels including measuring ambient noise. He stated he is in favor of a maximum of 60 decibels.

Mr. McNeil concurred with Mr. Peters.

Mr. McNeil reiterated importance of being consistent in ordinance.

Ms. Hooker stated ambient noise was high and questioned the measuring procedure. Mr. Jarrell suggested addressing transformer noise. He stated allowable noise should be site specific.

Mr. Thompson explained that the terrain plays a part in noise emission levels.

Mr. Jarrell discussed the importance of acquiring measurements from acoustics engineer. He stated noise level measurement will always be difficult.

Ms. Hooker discussed the importance of setting a standard for petitioners.

Mr. McNeil suggested reviewing Rockingham County’s ordinance.

Ms. Hooker discussed the importance of protecting the community. She suggested taking wind readings prior to building turbine.

Mr. Peters noted readings would vary during all seasons.

Ms. Hooker stated noise should be measured from the property line.

Mr. Thompson discussed preconstruction analysis during which ambient noise could be measured and used as the standard each site.

Ms. Hooker suggested acquiring additional guidance from staff and revisiting issue

during a future meeting.

Mr. Peters noted no standards have been set for low frequency noise.

Ms. Hooker stated the commissioners have a consensus on the definitions and the maximum noise level of 60 decibels.

The commissioners discussed turbine shut-down if the turbine is disruptive.

Mr. Thompson discussed renumbering of ordinance items.

Mr. Peters discussed turbine shut-down if ice becomes an issue

Mr. McNeil thanked staff for allowing the commission to view the large turbines at Beech Ridge Mountain, West Virginia.

Mr. McNeil made a motion to have setbacks of 110%, including one-half mile from existing occupied dwellings.

Mr. Thompson called the roll and the motion passed (3-1) with the following vote:

AYES: Jarrell, McNeil, Peters

NAYES: Hooker


Commissioners had a general consensus to restrict noise to a maximum of 60 decibels.

From the Roanoke County PC 05-17-2011 agenda documents

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