Albemarle County Planning Commission

January 13, 2009


The Albemarle County Planning Commission held a public hearing, meeting and work session on Tuesday, January 13, 2009, at 6:00 p.m., at the County Office Building, Lane Auditorium, Second Floor, 401 McIntire Road, Charlottesville, Virginia.


Members attending were Marcia Joseph, Calvin Morris, Bill Edgerton, Linda Porterfield, Thomas Loach and Eric Strucko, Chairman.  Jon Cannon, Vice Chairman was absent.  Julia Monteith, AICP, non-voting representative for the University of Virginia was present. 


Other officials present were Wayne Cilimberg, Director of Planning; David Benish, Chief of Planning; Mark Graham, Director of Community Development; Bill Letteri, Director of Facilities Development; Bill Fritz, Director of Current Development; Eryn Brennan, Senior Planner and Greg Kamptner, Deputy County Attorney. 


Call to Order and Establish Quorum:


Mr. Strucko called the regular meeting to order at 6:00 p.m. and established a quorum.


            Work Session:


Wind Turbines (Mark Graham)


The purpose of the work session was to consider possible Zoning Ordinance Amendment to allow wind turbines.


Mr. Graham presented a PowerPoint presentation and reviewed the staff report. (See Staff Report)


         This is the third work session on wind turbines.  In May, 2008 he pointed out that there is limited wind in this area.  There are challenging economics in this area.  Staff recognizes that the wind turbines would go along the hill tops and there would be issues with the Entrance Corridor.  In September staff came forth with the recommendation with the accessory structure only to support an existing use on the property.  The summary to the September meeting is attached to the staff report.


         He asked if there is a pressing demand for these things.  There are a lot of policy questions and staff is looking for direction.  There does not seem to be a huge demand for wind turbines at this point in time.  Staff recommends getting closure on this issue by delaying action on wind turbines for two years.  They need a decision on whether they can accept this and the aesthetic impact associated with it.


Mr. Strucko opened for public comment.


Morgan Butler, with the Southern Environmental Law Center, encouraged the County to move forward at this time, but to recognize and balance the potential problems associated with wind turbines particularly with the height limitations and the potential of clear cutting.  He was optimistic that a balance can be struck by starting with small wind turbines and that information gained from other localities in building the first wind turbines could be useful.


Jeremy Hayes asked that the issue not be tabled at this time.  He learned that six days ago two applications were submitted in the county.  He noted that he had information from other localities to present to staff.  He asked staff to move forward on wind turbines.


Neil Williamson asked that they not table this issue for two yes. He asked staff to consider the tier method and as the wind turbines move up in height to have Planning Commission permission.  He would like to get a better definition on no net power generation. He understood that some operations can generate more than their house needs.


Susan Midland, homeowner of Albemarle County, advocated for renewable energy and asked that the county not table the request.  She was trying to construct a home that will provide about 85 percent of our energy needs.


There being no further public comment, the public comment was closed and the matter before the Planning Commission. 


Mr. Morris supported moving forward with this and not tabling it for two years.


Mr. Edgerton agreed.  He thought that Mr. Williamson had good suggestions.  He suggested that perhaps they could pursue not modeling anything higher than the existing accessory structure height and to try to develop an ordinance provision for more scrutiny the higher it got.  There could be an aesthetic impact on the neighbors. There are regions in the county that would not be an issue, but they need to be responsible to address that issue.


In summary, the Planning Commission directed staff to move forward to draft an ordinance text amendment.  Due to its importance a sub-committee was formed of Ms. Joseph and Mr. Edgerton will assist staff in drafting a proposal for consideration.  No formal action was taken. 


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