New Kent Charles City Chronicle

News for New Kent County and Charles City County, Virginia | August 19, 2022

Charles City leaders deny text amendment to allow small-scaled solar farms into county

By Andre Jones | July 26, 2022 10:22 pm

A proposal to text amendments in Charles City County’s code that would have allowed smaller scale solar farms into the county has been denied by county leaders.

Charles City supervisors unanimously voted to deny the text amendment at the request of Borrego Solar during Tuesday night’s regular board meeting.

Borrego Solar representative Jessie Robinson approached county leaders about the proposal at the June regular meeting. Following up at Tuesday night’s meeting on the issue, she commented that while the county had a definition for large solar farms facility (identified as utility scale) that accommodates five megawatts and more than 40 acres of land, there was no guidance for smaller facilities.

The proposed text recommended by Robinson would provide definitions for small and medium-scale sized farms. Deemed as shared solar and community solar programs, these facilities would cover anywhere from 15-40 acres of land and generate up to five megawatts. The new text would also allow organizations like Borrego to apply for permits through the shared solar and community solar programs. Robinson added that Borrego had intended to construct a small facility in Charles City and took initiative to apply for a special use permit.

But apparently Charles City supervisors had similar concerns with Borrego’s proposal as their neighbor New Kent did a month earlier. New Kent denied Borrego’s request when minimalistic information was provided on the disposal of panels after the lifespan expires, as well as the amount of land it would require. It was apparent Charles City leaders were thinking the same thing.

“It terrifies me that when we look at changing the text for this, we are opening up Pandora’s Box,” said District 2 representative and board chairman Bill Coada. “It terrifies me that we may have a solar farm on every corner.

“Our county has already consumed quite a few solar panels,” he added. “I believe our county has already contributed enough to the environment’s green movement.”

District 1 supervisor Gilbert Smith echoed the sentiments of the chairman.

“We have this land and it’s valuable, so how much of this we will lose if we continue?” Smith questioned when looking at the project. “I just do not want to see Charles City eaten up in solar.

“We’re at the point where we need to slow down or stop where we can,” the District 1 representative added. “We need to take a look at solar coming into the county.”

Supervisors unanimously agreed to deny the zoning amendment. There were no additional comments from Borrego representatives on their intent to continue to pursue their Charles City project.

In other board matters:

–Announced the current dealings and violations with the Department of Environment Quality. Charles City County Administrator Michelle Johnson advised supervisors that they are dealing with violations at the wastewater treatment plants. She also said that may of the violations are due to miscalculations from a third-party who conducted testing as well as natural causes affecting the premises of the sites. Johnson said that she plans to meet with representatives of DEQ in a meeting to address these violations and in an attempt to avoid any fines that may be levied.

–Announced a special meeting for county residents to address bike races on Aug. 30. Coada commented that he wants to hear from county residents, local businesses, and law enforcement on the impact of bike races in the county. He added that the issue is for bike races that utilize the roads for events and not those who use the bike path that runs parallel to Route 5 in the county.