Dominion Energy’s proposal for ten tall steel towers across the Rappahannock River adjacent to the Robert Norris Bridge between Topping and White Stone has been rejected by SCC Hearing Examiner Alexander Skirpan, Jr. Skirpan posted his findings on the SCC web site August 21.
The report concludes that the proposed towers will negatively impact the viewshed, especially the currently uninterrupted views of the Rappahannock River and Chesapeake Bay from the Norris Bridge. The report also found that the viewshed is vital to a local economy dependent on tourism and retirees moving to the area. In addition, Skirpan cites the negative impact the added towers and fenders may have on boating. He says the higher cost of an underground solution is out weighed by the negative impact of the towers.
The Save the Rappahannock Coalition is praising the report. The coalition mobilized hundreds of concerned citizens and business leaders in support of local government opposition to the proposed towers. Carl Smith, Coalition President, said the group “presented ample evidence that the towers would be detrimental to the area economy and a blight on one of the Commonwealth’s most beautiful rivers”.
Dominion Virginia Power told Middle Neck News in an e-mail response to the report that its focus is on “providing the most reliable electric system at a reasonable cost to our customers in the Northern Neck region. We are reviewing the hearing examiner’s report and will respond next month. However, we remain steadfast that the overhead route is the best option for reliability, cost and reasonably minimizing impact and we will make that case before the SCC”.
All interested parties now have 28 days to file their response to the report, after which, The SCC will issue a final ruling.