Botetourt County: so basically, just shut up!

Have fun following this:

APEX Clean Energy is interested in building an industrial wind project in Botetourt County, Virginia.

As a result, Botetourt County Supervisors were inspired to write an ordinance to protect all county citizens from the wind industry’s potential intrusion.  The ordinance was not specific to the APEX considered project which again, evidently inspired the ordinance activity.

Some of the (soon to be protected) folks didn’t think the proposed ordinance went far enough.  A reasonable concern, one would think, since it’s understood that wind projects are likely on the horizon but the who, what, where, when, how … etc. etc., are not defined!

County Supervisors evidently decided to kick alternate, likely more stringent, recommendations to the curb and passed the one they prepared.  The result is that some citizens and the wind developer were happy with the action … some other citizens, not so happy!

So, as a next step, the unhappy citizens sue.  They think the approved ordinance does not go far enough to protect them from dangers/developers associated with future undefined projects and, as we all have a right to do, want to have their day in Court.

The Attorney for the County Supervisors, apparently unwilling to fight the merits of the approved ordinance before a Judge, wants to dismiss the complaint due to non ordinance issues.  He says the Court doesn’t have jurisdiction because there’s no harm yet.  (Reminds me of when I called the power company about a tree limb laying across power lines and told to call back when the line comes down.)

Here’s how Botetourt County (Virginia) attorney Michael Lockaby is quoted in the Roanoke Times article: Because there is “no actual wind farm — or even an application to build one at this point — there is no potential harm for the court to consider.”

However the same article, two paragraphs later, states that “Action by the board of supervisors was prompted by interest from Apex Clean Energy, a Charlottesville company that is considering a project that would include up to 25 large turbines on North Mountain.”

Mr. Lockaby may be correct there is no formal application I suppose, but knowing of a project which a specific wind developer is considering with up to 25 large turbines on a specific mountain within your jurisdiction should give a trained lawyer a clue that there may, in fact, be potential harm to consider, don’t you think?

But, it seems the county would rather just put this to bed.  In other words:

  • unhappy citizens upset that an ordinance they feel inadequately protects them from projects, acknowledged as in “consideration” by the wind developer, are not supposed to sue because, according to the County Attorney, the projects don’t currently exist or are even planned? So basically, just shut up!
  • an alternative ordinance would be far too strict for potential projects of which county officials have no knowledge.  So basically, just shut up!
  • the county needs to go easy on these wind developers because we want them to come here.  So basically, just shut up!
  • the County Attorney says the “unhappy citizens” lawsuit’s statement regarding the assertion that the County prepared ordinance lacks teeth is “nothing more than a difference of opinion between a taxpayer and his government,” So basically, just shut up!

In other words … well folks, there are no words!

I continue to wonder why the success of the industrial wind business relies so heavily on limited debate.  Seems to me that, when you’re dealing with unknowns, asking your representatives to perhaps err on the side of protection of citizens is not a far fetched concept.  After all, it’s a lot easier to allow specific exceptions to a stringent ordinance as a project is being developed rather than utilize the Botetourt County Supervisors’ choice which is to “place rules on the books — with the option of tinkering with them later.”

Tinkering?????  Really?????

Oh, by the way, I’m not a resident of the Botetourt County … not even of Virginia.  But I’ve had experience with wind developers who were successful in placing 23 huge turbines along the ridge-line above my home town.  That developer is no longer … having disbanded the responsible LLC but, the same management team, located at the same address (not here, are you surprised?) is operating under an new name and trying to develop another project a few miles down the road.

And yes, there were lawsuits from the very health issues which rightfully concern the “unhappy citizens” of Botetourt.

Finally, to the county supervisors, I sympathize with you for not wanting to spend additional time considering alternatives to your ordinance, especially since there is “no actual wind farm — or even an application to build one at this point.”  Wait … what???

Please read all related articles at The Roanoke Times, which has provided what seems to be pretty thorough coverage of the ongoing issues.

We do make every effort to be accurate.  Please advise of any errors or omissions so appropriate corrections can be made.

This entry was posted in botetourt county, Virginia Wind, wind ordinance and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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