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Banning windmills

Development should certainly be regulated on mountain slopes and ridges, as governments in Northwest North Carolina have finally started to do in the last few years....Few people want huge, sprawling farms of towering windmills. Regulations, including countywide zoning, are needed to make sure that doesn't happen. Neighboring Ashe County faces serious challenges in dealing with a proposed industrial-scale windmill farm in large part because it lacks a comprehensive land-use plan. Ashe did approve an ordinance a few months ago that would govern wind-energy systems such as windmill farms, but that may have been too late.

There are no easy answers to the thorny questions that the subject of windmills often raises in Northwest North Carolina. But the Blowing Rock Town Council may have gone too far recently when it became the first local government in the region to ban windmills.

Blowing Rock, in Watauga County, depends on tourist dollars, and council members want to protect those gorgeous mountain views. "I think appearance is extremely important in a small town like Blowing Rock," said Town Councilwoman Rita Wiseman.

Development should certainly be regulated on mountain slopes and ridges, as governments in Northwest North Carolina have finally started to do in the last few years.

But tourists are also flocking to the region for air quality. Windmills, by cleanly producing electric energy to sell to power companies, can help preserve that air quality. Without windmills and other sources of alternative energy, too much dependence on fossil fuels will ultimately ruin those views with smog and kill the trees and vegetation.

Local governments must realize that, and they should find a way to balance preserving views with... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

There are no easy answers to the thorny questions that the subject of windmills often raises in Northwest North Carolina. But the Blowing Rock Town Council may have gone too far recently when it became the first local government in the region to ban windmills.

Blowing Rock, in Watauga County, depends on tourist dollars, and council members want to protect those gorgeous mountain views. "I think appearance is extremely important in a small town like Blowing Rock," said Town Councilwoman Rita Wiseman.

Development should certainly be regulated on mountain slopes and ridges, as governments in Northwest North Carolina have finally started to do in the last few years.

But tourists are also flocking to the region for air quality. Windmills, by cleanly producing electric energy to sell to power companies, can help preserve that air quality. Without windmills and other sources of alternative energy, too much dependence on fossil fuels will ultimately ruin those views with smog and kill the trees and vegetation.

Local governments must realize that, and they should find a way to balance preserving views with preserving air quality through windmills.

Few people want huge, sprawling farms of towering windmills. Regulations, including countywide zoning, are needed to make sure that doesn't happen. Neighboring Ashe County faces serious challenges in dealing with a proposed industrial-scale windmill farm in large part because it lacks a comprehensive land-use plan. Ashe did approve an ordinance a few months ago that would govern wind-energy systems such as windmill farms, but that may have been too late.

Conversely, Watauga County was ahead of the curve last year when it became the first county in the state to adopt an ordinance regulating wind-energy systems. That's forward thinking. It's the kind of thinking that Blowing Rock council members should have done before they shut the door on windmills, including backyard ones. There's probably not that much land in Blowing Rock that would have been suitable for windmills, anyway.

As it is, the Blowing Rock decision is one more flashpoint that will keep "the windmill wars" raging for some time to come in Northwest North Carolina. On one level, it's a fight between progressives who stress conservation of scenic views against progressives who stress alternative sources of energy.

There has got to be a way for these people to find common ground in protecting both mountain views and mountain air.



Source: http://www.journalnow.com/s...

JUN 24 2007
http://www.windaction.org/posts/9660-banning-windmills
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