Further discussion for solar energy use

Published 9:59 am Wednesday, March 7, 2018

A final recommendation for proposed zoning amendments for solar energy uses will be discussed during a special called joint meeting and public hearing March 12, a notice from the county cited.

The hearing, featuring members of the Charlotte County Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission, will take place at 7 p.m. in the boardroom of the Charlotte County Administration Building, located at 250 LeGrande Ave. Suite A.

A previous hearing to receive public input about the zoning amendments was held Dec. 11.

Charlotte County Purchasing Agent and Planner Monica Elder said a member of the public expressed concern in December about an item in the proposed zoning amendments that would prohibit the construction of utility-scale solar facilities within a mile of one another.

“At the Dec. 11 hearing, citizen Bruce Hall expressed concerns about prohibiting the construction of utility-scale solar facilities within one mile of one another, particularly since the Holocene project that was approved was a smaller project (approximately 92 acres total),” Elder said. “The Board of Supervisors asked the Planning Commission obtain more information from Mr. Hall (and) research additional options for that specific amendment. The Planning Commissioners took Mr. Hall’s comments into consideration and are now proposing a density regulation that would limit the amount of solar development in an area instead of requiring a specific distance between project sites.”

Changes made to the draft amendment following the Dec. 11 meeting include, according to Elder, removing the regulation prohibiting construction of a facility within one mile of another facility and adding a density restriction.

“No more than two percent of the land in a five mile radius of the project area of any approved utility-scale solar energy facility shall be approved for use as the project area for a new utility-scale solar energy facility,” an item in the amendment package noted.

Additional changes to the amendments include reducing the maximum allowable size for facilities from 500 acres to 250 acres and revising language on an item relating to herbicide use for vegetation control.

“The previous draft prohibited utility-scale solar facilities from using herbicides for vegetation control,” Elder said. “That language was revised to only prohibit the use of herbicides for routine control of vegetation.