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Tazewell County implements a 6-month moratorium on new wind farms as county board hashes out policy revisions

Creative Commons

The Tazewell County Board voted Wednesday night to kick the can on revising the county’s wind farm ordinance.

All new wind turbine permits and construction in Tazewell County are now under a moratorium for up to six months while the board continues to deliberate what changes to make to the regulations.

Though District 2 board member Greg Menold was the only one to express concern that six months might not be enough time for the board’s committees to draft new regulations and the board to vote on them, the motion passed unanimously.

For District 3's Russ Crawford, who is a member of the Land Use and Zoning Board of Appeals committees, the question now comes down to the relevant committees “rolling up their sleeves.”

“They’re going to do all their due diligence and do a great job so that, when that resolution comes to the board floor, it needs to get either approved or a minor tweak. And we’re nowhere near that yet," he said.

The Tazewell County Board has spent the summer considering what requirements to impose on new wind turbine permits, with the United Citizens of Tazewell County offering an especially restrictive draft ordinance as an answer.

The companies seeking to further develop wind energy in Tazewell County have argued before the board that the proposed requirements, including a distance of at least 3,000 feet or six times the height of the turbine between new turbines and any buildings or property lines, would make new construction in Tazewell County impossible.

Tazewell County’s current ordinance requires 750 feet or 1.1 times the turbine’s height.

Menold and Crawford both preceded Wednesday night’s vote by expressing appreciation for the input from both parties and members of the board. Menold said the wind energy companies “came here because of our ordinance,” implying that the existing requirements, in effect for 12 years, attracted wind energy due to their laxness.

Both men acknowledged the need for a balance among economic development, public safety, and property rights. Both also stated that they are not against wind energy in Tazewell County.

Chris Francis is a WCBU correspondent. He joined the station in 2022.