New Kent Charles City Chronicle

News for New Kent County and Charles City County, Virginia | January 27, 2023

Charles City bike ordinance comes with restrictions; decision deferred on solar facility

By Robb Johnson | December 25, 2022 11:11 pm

Organizations that are looking to use roads in Charles City County for bike races will now have to go through the process of a public hearing before being decided on by the county.

Charles City’s Board of Supervisors approved an ordinance 3-0 on the new regulations during the Dec. 22 regular board meeting.

In Aug. 2022, county leaders organized a specially called meeting to address bike racing in the county, looking for a way to compromise on having the events and satisfying county citizens. During the specially called meeting, many citizens spoke about their concerns of local roads being used for events. Organizers of the racers commented about their donations and other activities they have contributed. But for supervisors, concerns on how the county did not receive monetary benefits as they were not the host county for the bike races despite a majority of the event being held in Charles City.

The Dec. 22 meeting established guidelines for organizations who desire to use highways within the county borders as routes for races. Guidelines include each organization holding a public hearing, and for each of the races to meet with state and federal regulations for utilizing the road. There are exceptions to not having a public hearing, but fines will be levied against those who do not follow the regulations set forth by county leaders.

The new ordinance also places a limitation on the number of races in the county each year. Starting in 2023, only five races will be permitted in the county unless the Board of Supervisors approve additional ones. A public hearing must be held prior to the approval of more races.

While there were no speakers at the public hearing at the meeting, county leaders reflected on the varying number of issues that factored into their vote. Factors include the feedback from citizens, safety of the roads, and how the county can benefit from the races. After a short series of dialogue, supervisors voted unanimously in favor 3-0 to adopt the new conditions.

In another board matter, county leaders deferred a decision on the construction of a solar electric facility until January 2023.

A special use permit (SUP) proposed by Keydet Solar Center LLC is proposing to construct a 145 mega-watt facility located between Wayside and Roxbury Road. AES, who is affiliated with Keydet Solar Center LLC, said that the addition would produce $400,000 annually for the county and $5 million within the first five years. They also said that the facility would make them the largest taxpayers in the county as well.

The proposed location covers 1,968 acres of land, with 582 acres being used for the facility. The other acres would be used to provide vegetative buffers on all sides of the facility.

During public comment, Lynn Barbini said that the company has already cost the county money.

“We lost $4 million in tax revenue from this company,” she said. “You guys don’t have a good history of making good energy deals.

“You guys need to think about what you are doing with our money,” Barbini said, addressing county leaders. “Where is the transparency? We need someone in here that is worried about the county and not lining their own pockets.”

District 2 Supervisors and Board Chairman Bill Coada responded to Barbini’s accusations.

“You need to do your research because we did not lose $4 million,” he said. “What we did was make a $4 million mistake, and that company (AES) came back to the public hearing and fixed it.

“We have been doing our jobs and maybe you want to attend more meetings,” Coada added. “Be more active going forward instead of being a part-time citizen.”

Despite the dialogue, county leaders deferred a decision on the project until a Jan. 11, 2023 meeting at 6 p.m.