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Roanoke Addressing Wind Turbines In Zoning Revision

by Valerie Garner

Small-scale residential wind turbines are being considered in a rework of text for the city’s zoning ordinance. Former planning commission member Richard Rife began the conversation with the only wind turbines in Roanoke City perched on William Fleming stadium light polls.

The conversation continued at the council briefing Monday morning. Chris Chittum, planning administrator, told council a conservative approach with a special exception permit would start in a limited number of zoning districts.

Residential wind turbines could be no higher than 20 feet above roof height and the blade width no wider than 4 ½ feet. The applicant’s neighbors would have an opportunity to weigh in, said Chittum.

Chittum sees them looking like old fashioned television antennas.

In agricultural or commercial districts, free standing wind turbines would be limited to 120 feet in height or 60 feet above a rooftop. The blade could be no wider than 30 feet.

Zoning Text Redo And Changes – Setbacks:

Setback and side yard minimums are changing in residential districts. The change will reduce the minimum from five feet to three feet from sides and the back of a property.

The intent is to allow additions, such as garages, that will line up with existing driveways. Homes on narrow lots have a difficult time with additions under the existing limitations.

Unattached accessory building additions will be based on the footprint of the house. The maximum allowed will increase from 40 percent of a home’s footprint to 75 percent. The cumulative percentage of multiple accessory buildings can be no more than 100 percent of the home’s footprint.

In these cases extra fire ratings will be required. Chittum does not expect new developments wanting to incur the extra expense.


A special exception permit will be required for a residential workshop. Chittum envisions workshops used for cabinetry making, jewelry making, simple electronics and garment making as examples.

The planning commission approved the zoning changes and a public hearing will be held on May 16 at the 7:00 p.m. meeting.

Budget / Financial Report for March:

At the council briefing, staff went over the public hearing on the budget. The savings for using urban archery in place of professional contractors for deer culling would save $75,000 over a two-year period.

Assistant city manager Brian Townsend said that the contractor culled about 150 deer in a two-year period. He said the urban archery prospect had been addressed in the past but was dismissed for safety reasons. Townsend said that the contractors had to perform on a shooting range before they were approved for deer culling.

Staff told council they did not recommend changing bulk and brush collection from alternating weeks to once a month for each.

Constitutional officer pay, law clerks for judges and Sheriff Octavia Johnson’s assistant’s duties were questioned. Sheriff Johnson defended her assistant as Councilman Ray Ferris questioned items on the list. The list included speech writing, education and grant writing.

The March financial report projects 2011 revenue coming in $3.6 million above Finance Director Ann Shawver’s conservative projections. She cautioned that the amount was small and should be used for deferred fleet maintenance and technology upgrades.

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