Wind energy important to county's future

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By Erica Largen of Dugspur and Lauren Peery of Laurel Fork

We are young adults born and bred in the rural mountains of Carroll County.
The farming roots of our families can be traced to the 1800s and our farms are still producing in 2012. We are future landowners who want to protect our land from ill-conceived zoning restrictions so it may be fully passed to our children.
For the past four years we attended universities away from home. The more we learn, the more we are driven to protect the natural resources that create Carroll County jobs and a vibrant economy.
An upcoming vote by the board of supervisors will define who we are as a community by how we are allowed to use our land’s resources and what heritage we pass to our children. This vote will uphold or undermine our right to make private land-use decisions. It is imperative that citizens are informed to ensure an outcome we won’t regret.
The planned ridgetop ordinance, intended to restrict industrial wind development on Stoots Mountain, will have far greater consequences for Carroll landowners. The ordinance would prohibit and restrict development of all new buildings or structures with a vertical height of 40 feet or more on mountain ridges of 2,000 feet or more and an elevation of 500 feet above the adjacent valley floor.
It is illogical to prohibit all tall development on ridgetops. Wind turbines are not flawless, but this will restrict the ability of future generations to make decisions about ridgetops 100 years from now. We strongly believe an ordinance addressing industrial wind development should be reasonable. A conditional use permit with limits on noise, requirements for protecting the public interest and the ecological integrity of the ridge, and decommissioning agreements will better safeguard the citizens of Carroll County.
To work the land and make its resources productive is our American tradition. The ability to harness wind energy from the land is as important as the ability to produce crops and livestock from the land.
Carroll County can do better. We owe it to our heritage and future to do so.