Opposition to wind energy project surfaces at public hearing
CHOWAN COUNTY – The Planning Board, which advises the county commissioners on land use matters, met last month in order to consider a possible moratorium on wind energy development that had been presented to the county attorney.
Numerous legal considerations must be resolved before any moratorium can be imposed.
The attorney stated that the moratorium was just one tool in the toolbox and that the moratorium was just an option. There are certain issues that must be addressed.
One is that all options be exhausted pertaining to current wind development. Another is to prove the inadequacy of the existing ordinance, which will require expert witnesses.
The Planning Board Chairman, Lou Serrott, stated his belief that the existing ordinance is inadequate to serve the health, safety and welfare of the public.
The Vice Chair, Patti Kersey, said statutory authority exists to develop and recommend the required ordinance to implement land use policies.
The next step is to make a recommendation to the commissioners, proving an prove an eminent threat to the county.
The Planning Board discussed the preparation of a letter of explanation, spending almost 30 minutes to resolve a policy question. Ultimately, the board agreed that the Chairman would present the facts in a personal address to the commissioners.
All of the Planning Board members offered remarks, except William Mounds, who did not speak the entire time. The Board member — who most objected to the proceedings – was Bobby Winborne, seated to the left of Mounds.
Earlier, Mounds asked to recuse himself, having accepted a letter of intent from wind energy developer Apex Development of Charlottesville, Va. to use property owned by Mounds.
The Board opened the meeting to residents of Chowan County who wanted to speak either for, or against, the wind energy issue. Several speakers offered information, which was more emotional than technical. Most were in the ‘against’ category.
However, contrary to suggested procedure, speakers were allowed from organizations with vested interests in wind energy. There was a speaker from Weyerhaeuser (named Mr. Jones) who said that he would not allow this project on his land without adequate safeguards.
Ms. Bunk from the SE Wind Coalition in Raleigh, addressed the Board along with a farmer named Gene Jordan from Tyner, both of whom are in favor of the project. Then, Tyson Hutt, representing Apex Development, read a statement supporting his company’s interests.
Of the nearly two dozen speakers, only four were in favor of the project. It seemed pretty clear that those in favor, had been orchestrated by Richard Bunch, who also attend. Bunch was formerly with the Northeast Commission; a business development agency, defunded by the Governor in June of last year.
The Commission had been very favorable toward wind energy. But, after the shutdown, the NE Commission was absorbed into the NE Alliance, a much larger organization in the same field. But Mr. Bunch was not part of the new organization. He is now a consultant to the wind developers.
Leaders of the NE Alliance have not yet stated their position re wind energy.