MCT REGIONAL NEWS
By Charles Owens
Bluefield Daily Telegraph, W.Va.
Dec. 17--BLUEFIELD, Va. -- The opponents of a proposed wind turbine farm on East River Mountain say they will continue their fight against Dominion Resources.
"I am certainly saddened by the fact that I see this in the newspaper and that they are coming back and operating as they are," Dr. Teresa Paine, a member of the Mountain Preservation Association, said of Dominion's announcement that it will be the sole developer of the proposed Bluestone River Wind Farm. "I think they are going to take advantage of this county for their own benefit and leave us with a wrecked mountain that will diminish our property values. It's going to have a terrible, negative impact on Tazewell County. We are going to fight for the future of our area. And it's not just the future of our town. You are going to see these if you are in Bluefield, W.Va., or if you are in Tazewell. They are going to be 500 feet high."
Dominion announced Wednesday that it is acquiring full ownership of a 2,600 acre tract of land on East River Mountain for the purpose of developing the wind farm. BP will no longer be a part of the project. The amended property deed was recorded Thursday at the Tazewell County Courthouse.
Paine said Dominion promised to "walk away" if the ridgeline ordinance was adopted, and if a majority of the county's residents were opposed to the project. "We didn't trust them to just walk away as they said they would," Paine said. "We expected them to come back."
Seth White, chairman of the Tazewell County Board of Supervisors, said the $200 million wind farm -- if Dominion is allowed to develop it -- would provide a major economic boost to Tazewell County. However, a ridgeline protection ordinance adopted by the board last February on a 3-2 vote restricts the heights of tall structures on East River Mountain and other protected ridgelines in the county.
White said he didn't know if action on the state or federal level would override the county ordinance.
"I think that we had a vote, and the ridgeline ordinance was passed, and until that changes -- unless something happens legislatively -- I don't see anything changing," White said. "That is probably going to be the only way that the project could go forward here."
White said he remains generally supportive of the project.