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Botetourt County Issues Determination on Rocky Forge Wind SEP
The Utility Scale Wind Farm Project Can No Longer Be Developed

Botetourt County, VA (July 27, 2021) - Botetourt issued a formal zoning determination on Wednesday, July 7, 2021, that a special exceptions permit (SEP) granted to Apex Clean Energy for its Rocky Forge Wind project has lapsed and become invalid. The determination (available here) was issued in response to a request from Virginians for Responsible Energy (VRE) to evaluate the validity of the project’s SEP issued in 2016 and extended in 2020. The SEP provided that if a final site plan were not approved by May 26, 2021, the SEP would terminate.

VRE requested an opinion on the applicability of a state law passed by a special session of the state General Assembly in October of last year that extends certain timelines until July 1, 2022, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The County’s Zoning Administrator determined that Va. Code Section 15-2-2209.1.1 does not apply to Apex’s SEP and therefore the SEP has expired. The expiration of the SEP means that the utility scale wind farm project can no longer be developed.

The County first granted a SEP to Apex to pursue the project in 2016. The Botetourt County Board of Supervisors modified and extended the SEP at the company’s request in May 2020. At that time, Apex reported that construction would be completed by the end of 2021. The SEP and the zoning ordinance were modified to increase the allowable height of turbines. The Board was concerned that the project was showing little progress and added a condition, at the recommendation of the Planning Commission, that required the project to receive final site plan approval by May 26, 2021. A final site plan was not approved by that deadline.

A site plan application was submitted in March and was rejected both by the Virginia Department of Transportation and County staff, with over 100 comments and deficiencies.

Construction on the Rocky Forge project has not begun. No permits for land disturbance or any construction activity have been issued by Botetourt County.

Apex has 30 days to appeal the County’s determination to the County’s Board of Zoning Appeals.

Following a ruling by that board, the matter may be appealed to the circuit court.

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About Botetourt County: Botetourt County (Pop. 33,494) is a 546 sq. mile community in Southwestern Virginia. The rural community is in the southwestern portion of the state in the scenic Roanoke Valley of Virginia. Strategically located on Interstate 81, and just 20 miles south of Interstate 64, Botetourt County is accessible to the markets of the Mid-West, the Mid-Atlantic, and the entire Eastern Seaboard. Botetourt County has a five-member elected Board of Supervisors which oversees most of the county’s government-related operations. In addition, Botetourt County has a complete administrative staff that works under the direction of a County Administrator who is hired by the Board of Supervisors to run day-to-day operations.

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