Procedures for Zoning Amendments
and Applications for Conditional-Use Permits

With special reference to Highland New Wind Development

H. T. McBride [Highland New Wind Development] submitted two applications, one for a zoning amendment to allow for the necessary height, and one for a conditional-use permit to construct the turbines in an A2 zone. These are two separate things and are handled very differently.

1. Amendment
An application for a zoning amendment is referred to the Planning Commission. The ordinance requires both the PC and the BOS to hold public hearings either separately or jointly. Historically they hold joint public hearings, which they did on this application on 21 October 2004. At the close of the hearing the PC voted to pass the amendment on to the BOS with no recommendation. That action started a 90-day period for the BOS to act, which ended 19 January 2005. The BOS could have acted immediately upon receipt of the motion from the PC on Oct 21 or at any time after that. They chose to hold off on it and finally acted at a special meeting on 10 January 2005. The result was to deny the proposed amendment with the intent to consider alternative language to be prepared by Counsel.

2. Conditional-use permit
An application for a CUP is sent to the PC for review. The PC is required to make a recommendation to the BOS within 60 days but is not required to hold a public hearing on it. They took this action immediately after their vote on the zoning amendment on Oct 21. This did not set any deadlines for the BOS but the BOS is expected to act within a “reasonable period” of time and they must hold a public hearing. Once that hearing is held they have 60 days to take final action. The hearing was set for 26 January 2005 but was cancelled when the zoning amendment was denied. Presumably it will be rescheduled after some zoning change is adopted — unless the change precludes industrial wind turbines entirely.

This is where we stand on 19 January 2005.

For further information on any of this please contact Roberta Lambert by e-mail or call 540-468-2347. Comments may also be sent by e-mail or by conventional mail to Highland County Board of Supervisors, Box 130, Monterey, VA 24465. Be sure to include the sentence, “Please make this letter part of the public record on this issue.” in your letter.

John R. Sweet, Mustoe, VA