Thursday, September 15, 2011

Roanoke County Attorney Compares Wind Farms to Hamburgers

When introducing a new land use, it is the obligation of the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors to confirm that it is a beneficial land use that is worthy of desecrating approx. 3/8 mile of virgin ridge line per turbine. Neither Invenergy nor the Supervisors have documented in any scientific meaningful way that this is a good land use for Roanoke County.

I believe this is a fundamental question that must be addressed when considering a land use that Roanoke County has never before considered. The worthiness of the proposed use must be thoroughly validated before even considering such details as setback, noise annoyance, communication disruption, view shed, environmental protection, ad infinitum.
Sound reasonable? County Attorney Paul Mahoney argued, no. On a couple of occasions, when I posed this question to our esteemed civil servant, he declared the question as being analogous to evaluating the quality of a hamburger at a fast food restaurant prior to granting a permit for the construction of such a restaurant in our County.
Tuesday evening, when our Board of Supervisors had become overwhelmed with concern for exstensive modifications to a proposed large scale wind ordinance, Mr. Mahoney, struggled to guide them toward a confusing "line by line" vote on modifications based upon fear that a potential applicant may attempt to seek permission to build such a use under an unrelated part of the existing ordinance. This expressed fear has prevailed for over two years and has intimidated both the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors into a very flawed process to accomodate the wind industry.
Industrial wind farms have not proven in any way a justification to classify them as a utility use under the Zoning Ordinance of Roanoke County. Indeed, if that were the case, why wouldn't small scale residential turbines have been declared permissable by the same logic?