Saturday, September 10, 2011

Why provide keys to the Blue Ridge to the Windbaggers?

This is exactly what the Roanoke County Attorney and Roanoke County Administrative staff has been doing for well over two years. The County Attorney has continued to advise our elected and appointed officials that, ‘if you don’t provide prospective applicants for industrial scale wind turbine installations with a defined use in our zoning ordinance, you risk that they may attempt to apply for permission to construct such facilities under our existing ordinance by defining their project as a utility use, and if they pursue that option the Courts may rule in their favor.’ The County Attorney has further warned that, ‘if you establish use standards that might be described as “unreasonable”, the County still risks an unfavorable ruling in the Courts.’

According to Wind Data Charts prepared by AWS/Truewind, a private consultant from upstate New York paid by the DOE, a politically driven federal agency stakeholder* in “unproven technology’, the most productive “on-shore” wind sites in Virginia are on the Blue Ridge mountains, paralleling the Blue Ridge Parkway. Chicago-based Invenergy, LLC and other “Windbaggers” including GE, BP, Horizon, Siemens and a host of others are trying to establish a “beach-head” along the Blue Ridge in Virginia. (*Stakeholders: In today’s twisted world of spin are those whose livelihoods are dependent upon the promotion of non-validated sources of renewable energy, not the property holding stewards of the land.)

Supervisor Richard Flora commented at a recent public hearing considering the proposed Large and Industrial Scale Wind Turbine Amendment to the Roanoke County Zoning Ordinance that he considered it the responsibility of the Board of Supervisors to determine the “highest and best use” of land in Roanoke County. Very few Roanoke County citizens, if any, would disagree with his statement. The appeal of Mr. Flora’s statement is in its simplicity and clarity of understanding the importance of allowing for thoughtful uses of Roanoke County lands.

As a result of County staff’s guidance, the current proposed amendment to our Zoning ordinance falls far short of responding to Mr. Flora’s commitment. No benefits to our community have been irrefutably identified other than a suggestion from the “windbaggers” of $800,000 of more annually of tax revenue to Roanoke County. Further the amendment as it currently stands minimizes reasonable protection of the citizens of Roanoke County and the entire Roanoke Valley.

An $800,000 annual tax revenue windfall, first, benefits our local government staff. Secondly, it may, just may, provide some relief to local taxpayers at the expense of many individual citizen landowners.

The saddest part of this misadventure is that, indeed, as we have been warned, the Windbaggers do not hesitate to divide and split a community over massive financial gain……

at our direct expense.