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The Bedford County Planning Commission has decided to create a separate wind ordinance.
The original plan was to incorporate windmill language in the new zoning ordinance that the planning commission is working on, making it a use by right in certain areas. Currently, a landowner wishing to build a wind turbine must go through the special use permit process. The special use permit costs about $2,000.
One landowner, Roger Henderson, owns a woodworking business and is anxious to build a windmill to generate power. He already produces power with solar panels on the roof of his business, but he wants the windmill to take advantage of strong winds in the winter, a time when his solar panels are at their minimum output. Henderson lives on Va. 122, near the Millstone Tea Room and substantial winds come rolling down Apple Orchard Mountain and across his property from November through March.
Henderson briefed the planning commission on two types of windmill technology. In addition to the type with blades that look like a large, three-bladed airplane propeller, there is a new type called a Wind Spire. The windmills airfoils rotate on a vertical axis and the entire windmill is only a few feet in diameter. Henderson said that this design works better in turbulent wind and at lower wind velocities.
Henderson also lobbied for a 85-foot maximum height limit on windmills. He told the planning commission that lower heights will limit their effectiveness, although he said Wind Spires work better at lower heights than the airplane-propeller types.
“Height is crucial in wind generation,” he said.
The planning commission discussed the ordinance’s language for nearly two hours, with potential impact on the Blue Ridge Parkway’s views-heds.
“I don’t see where it obstructs anything,” said District 7 Planning Commissioner Curtis Stephens.
Stephens said that there will only be one or two windmills within sight of the Parkway, not a string of them.
“I don’t see that one pole will impact anything,” he said.
“I think it’s a good idea to notify them,” commented District 6 Planning Commissioner Derrick Noell.
The ordinance contains language that calls on the county to notify the Parkway about any windmills that may impact the Parkway, giving Parkway officials an opportunity to comment.
The planning commission eliminated a 200-foot setback requirement of Va. 43 and Va. 122 north and adjusted that ordinance’s language to take the new Wind Spire design into consideration.
“I think we have a draft ordinance,” said Planning Commission Chairman Lynn Barnes at the end.
The ordinance will allow a windmill as a use by right in any zone on lots of one acre or larger. Smaller lot sizes will require a special use permit. The ordinance will require public hearings before the planning commission and the board of supervisors, and action by the supervisors, before taking effect.