Council to talk wind – again

Published 10:49 pm Monday, November 3, 2008

City Council is kicking off the month of November with a relatively short agenda for the Nov. 5 regular session.

In fact, the only ordinance up for discussion at Council’s meeting is a return item – brought back from the Oct. 15 meeting.

Council will once again talk about changing the Unified Development Ordinance to allow for wind turbines in specific zoning districts.

Email newsletter signup

A wind turbine is a rotating machine, which converts the kinetic energy in wind into mechanical energy usable to power mechanical work of all kinds.

The city had been receiving requests to allow citizens to put up wind turbines on their property in order to provide electrical power (either for on-site or off-site users). Under the city’s current UDO, wind turbines were not addressed, and thereby not currently permitted.

The issue was brought before the Planning Commission in September. At that meeting, Cynthia Taylor, assistant planning director for the city of Suffolk, gave an overview presentation to the commission. Taylor told the commission that alternative energy sources have been a popular topic of conversation for citizens lately. She also said that in 2008 the commonwealth passed a new energy plan focused on reducing Virginia’s dependency on electricity.

Despite some questions on the specific requirements, the commission voted 13-0 to allow for the change to the UDO citing additional changes could be made later.

When the matter was brought to Council last month, Council members had problems with specific height and lot size requirements to have a wind turbine. They voted to table the matter to give the planning staff time to evaluate these issues.

The ordinance has now been amended to eliminate the minimum lot size for small wind facilities because the tower’s height would be comparable to the amount of setback needed. Plus, the setbacks for a small wind facility were also adjusted. The public/private right-of-way and the setback for major arterial roadways were both decreased, which will allow for greater flexibility in placing small wind facilities.

Also at the Council meeting Wednesday:

4City Council will be given a presentation on the 2008 Top Cop Awards, where Suffolk Police Chief William Freeman was awarded for his decades of service. Captain Stephanie Burch was also recognized as Suffolk’s Top Cop for 2008.

4City Council will be given a presentation on the sale of the $16.6 million of general obligation bonds.

4City Council will be introduced to the newly selected Economic Development Director Cynthia Cave. Cave has been the Economic Development Director for Prince George County for the past three years.