Meteorological tower variance OK'd

Meteorological tower variance OK'd

Posted: Sunday, November 13, 2016 6:00 am

By KEVIN GREEN - kgreen@thecouriertimes.com

A meteorological tower near Lewisville may remain in place for three more years following action by the Henry County Board of Zoning Appeals.

The lone item of business before the BZA Thursday was a request from Flat Rock Wind, LLC. The company, which hopes to develop a “wind farm” in southern Henry County, was seeking a five year extension on the commissioned approved use that allowed the tower to be erected in the first place.

Flatrock Wind is a subsidiary of Apex Clean Energy. Robert Eherenman, an attorney representing the company, said the request to allow the tower, which collects various data related to wind, was about allowing it to remain in place and continue to collect more information and nothing else.

Eherenman and Apex employee Nathan Lahman testified the tower is in good structural condition and in no way poses a threat to public safety. Eherenman also pointed out that since the tower went up in 2010, there have been no complaints about it for any reason. The attorney also said the tower has not resulted in any problems for nearby property owners, such as property value decline.

Kathy Searcy, who owns the property on which the tower sets, testified it is located in the middle of farm fields and there is only one residence within sight of it.

“It’s been there and nobody has complained, why would it matter if it’s there a little bit longer?” she asked.

Several people spoke against the variance request including Vernon Cherrett, Melissa Elmore, Rosalind Richey, Tom Norris, Terri Roberts, Patsy Conyers and Marcus Allhands. 

They shared concerns including public safety and their belief the matter should not be acted on until a review of the county’s wind energy conversion system ordinance has been completed and any recommendations for changes to that ordinance have been considered.

“They have had plenty of time, they have plenty of data by their own statement. Their project is on hold, the ordinance revision is in progress. The county should deny the request,” Cherrett said.

Eventually, BZA member Carol Goodwin made a motion to modify the variance request, making it a three year extension for leaving the tower in place rather than the five years originally asked for. This motion passed unanimously.

The board then went through a findings of fact process and unanimously found that the request, as amended, met all the conditions necessary for approval.