Following a presentation by David Savage of Green Energy, a Texas-based, company. Board Member Virgil Adcock motioned to enter into the agreement with Green Energy and Board Member Gary Bannister also voted for the project. Board Chairman Scooter Howell voted no, saying he thought the board needed more time to discuss the issue and Board Members Henry Wright and Daphne Rogers were silent throughout the vote.
There was some question following the meeting as to whether the motioned passed with only two yes votes.
Attorneys for both the park board and Green Energy, however, concluded that the vote was legal and binding.
Currently the plan is to place approximately 10 turbines on the mountain above Leesburg that would generate electricity for Tennessee Valley Authority.
Savage said the project could mean approximately $9 million in tax revenue for the county over the life of the project could increase tourism for Cherokee County, bringing in extra dollars from outside the area. The project will also result in new jobs, during both the construction phase and afterward with tentative plans for a visitor center, which will be shared by Pioneer and the Park Board that will offer educational programs promoting and explaining clean energy. The completion date for the project could be as soon as December of 2013.
Projected revenue could mean up to $300,000 a year over a period of 30 years for the county if the project along a ridge of Cherokee Rock Village proceeds. The project would generate up to 20 megawatts of energy, which is enough to provide electricity close to 6,000 local homes.
The turbines, more than 400 feet high, would be place approximately a quarter of a mile apart and would be located at least 1,000 feet away from any permanent residence(s), Savage said.
Savage said an environmental study by TVA is required before going further with the project.
During a more recent meeting of the park board, however, some 20 citizens attended to express their views on this project, including Carlo and Angela Whitehead, who didn’t get to speak at this meeting but are scheduled to speak at the next meeting of the Cherokee County Park Board.
The Whiteheads reside on Cherokee County Road 70 in Sand Rock, at the base of the entrance to Cherokee Rock Village.
“We went to the parks and recreation board meeting and they talked about the windmill project they were going to put on the mountain,” Carlo told the Herald following the Wednesday, Oct. 10 meeting of the Cherokee County Park Board. “We didn’t get to express our views and there were about 15 or 20 people in the hallway that weren’t able to make it in the room with us because it was too full that were against this idea of having windmills on top of Cherokee Rock Village, area, Sand Rock mountain. Because we believe it is going to take away from the beauty of the mountain.”
“Who in the world would want to camp under these giant windmills when they are going out to be a part of nature?” Carlo asked. “They make movies on this mountain because it is pristine, it is beautiful. Who would want to make movies on this mountain (with the wind turbines)? And I think it is a terrible thing to do to this mountain and I think the parks department, if they let this project go through, they are getting so far away from what they started out doing, with these campsites where people can go up there with their families and kids and enjoy the campsite, they are just way off base and getting out into the left field into the weeds where they don’t need to be with this windmill project. I don’t see somebody being in a tent camping and listening to the roar of one of those generators above their head all night long and enjoying it.”
Whitehead said he has seen these windmills first hand in the state of New York.
“Go up under one, stand under one and see how much you like it,” said Whitehead. “With the vibration of the ground, you are going to feel it when the wind is turning. It is going to shake the ground it is so massive. I just think it is a bad idea and I am honestly I think if they actually let people know more about what it is going on, there would be a lot more against it. I was lucky enough to find out about it last night and to come up and express my thoughts about it.”
“What about the medical aspects of it, making people sick from the generators and stuff like that,” asked Angela. “It is not even something I want to look at every day. I see that mountain every day.”
“I have seen with my own eyes how busy that place is with all the cars and stuff coming down, people with their tents, like on the Fourth of July, and the revenue the campsite is bringing to the area I think is good,” said Angela. “But as for the windmills, I am like him. I think it is just blowing money away by having the campsites built and a windmill right on top of it. I am not happy at all about it. I am not budging off my decision or my opinion.”
Stay tuned! The next meeting of the Cherokee County Park Board is Wednesday, Oct. 24, at 1 p.m.