Friday, February 6, 2009

City Planning Commission Members Warn Council of Unattainable Tree Canopy Goal – Wind Turbine Zoning

Rife, Rosen, Trinkle, Mason – Planning Presentation

Rick Williams, Roanoke City Planning Commission member said, “there is zero chance of [Roanoke City] achieving its tree canopy goals.” In 2003 Roanoke City Council set a goal of reaching a 40% tree canopy within 10 years. Commission member, Kent Chrisman, said that “one acre of clear cutting” wipes out any efforts on the part of the city’s streetscape efforts.

Chrisman said Roanoke is suffering from the Urban Island effect. The effect results in increased temperatures due to the thermal effect created by an increase in asphalt and pavement. He added that without the help of the private sector Roanoke would not meet its goal.
Williams said most of the available land is publicly owned unshielded street corridors. He called tree canopy a “civic obligation” and the city does not have enough open space available to reach its goal.
Council member Anita Price called it “deplorable” and that she “did not want to see the goal brushed aside.”
Chrisman suggested tax abatement incentives to increase the tree canopy that would result in minimal financial impact on the city. Williams identified VDOT’s 10th street project that will have only a two-foot area for street trees. To plant anything meaningful you need 4 to 5 feet of space between a sidewalk and the street. This is contrary to the comprehensive plan, said Williams; large street corridors need sufficient tree canopy to create effective thermal protection.
It was suggested that when the city uses incentives to entice a business to build in Roanoke that they attach additional tree and landscape requirements to the incentive.
However, Councilman Court Rosen said he “did not want to see another hurtle added to incentives by adding restrictions.”
In other business at the joint meeting with the Planning Commission:
Richard Rife presented the plan to add four wind turbines to the light poles of the new William Fleming football stadium. Rife said they would generate enough electricity to light the football field at night. In daylight the electricity would feed back into the grid thereby reversing the electric meter and saving money. The stadium wind turbines will be 92 feet tall – only 10 feet higher then the light pools. Rife wants Council to consider zoning changes for the future use of wind turbines throughout the city by both commercial and residential property owners. Anemometers can be used to determine where there is sufficient wind to make it cost effective for placement. Rife said that the level area near the airport is a sufficiently windy location. The FAA does require notification if the turbine is sited within 20,000 feet of an existing runway. The new school and stadium is less than 5,000 feet from the closest runway.

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Roanoke City Politics

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