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Solar hearing set

A joint public hearing between the Charlotte County Board of Supervisors and the Charlotte County Planning Commission will be held June 11 to hear public comment regarding proposed zoning ordinance amendments for solar energy uses.

According to a copy of proposed zoning ordinance amendments, amendments include factors involving location, density, screening/ fencing, site maintenance and repair of panels.

A complete section of applications requirements was also added to the proposed amendments.

“No utility scale solar energy system shall be located within 1 mile of an existing town boundary,” said the proposed amendment regarding location.

In addition, the amendment involving density said “no more than 3 percent of the land area in any given five mile radius shall be approved for use as the project are for the Utility-Scale Solar Energy Systems.”

At an April meeting of the Charlotte County Planning Commission, action regarding the previous proposed zoning amendments was tabled.

“They requested an assessment to determine the capacity of Charlotte County’s existing transmission lines and associated infrastructure in order to gain a better understanding of the amount of solar development that the existing transmission lines could support,” said County Purchaser and Planning Agent Monica Elder previously in March.

During that time, Elder noted that a joint public hearing was originally set for March 12 to receive public comment regarding the finalized proposed amendments.

After the hearing was advertised, Elder previously noted she was approached by several individuals with concerns, among them solar companies Carolina Solar and SolUnesco, with whom she met to discuss the concerns.

“Because the hearing had already been advertised, we didn’t feel like we could cancel the hearing at that time … “Elder said in March. However, the hearing was canceled due to inclement weather.”

During the March meeting of the Planning commission, concerns were raised by Francis Hodsoll, co-owner of SolUnesco, who spoke at the meeting regarding solar farms in the county.

SolUnesco is a Virginia-based company that develops utility scale solar farms.

He said his company had looked at the possibility of a solar farm project in Charlotte County.

During that time, Hodsoll said the proposed changes to the solar farm ordinance could eliminate the possibility of tens of millions of dollars in revenues for Charlotte firms. It could also eliminate any future solar farms.

“We propose providing the county with an independent economic study demonstrating how a large solar project could benefit Charlotte County,” said the company at the March meeting.

The proposed amendments also said for utility scale solar energy systems, a pre-application meeting must be held.

“Prior to submitting an application for a utility scale solar energy system, applicants shall have a pre-application meeting with the Zoning Administrator or his/her designee to discuss the location, scale and nature of the proposed project and the application review process …”

The hearing will be held in the boardroom of the Charlotte County Administration Building in Charlotte Court House at 7 p.m.

A complete copy of the proposed zoning ordinance amendments can be accessed on the county’s website, www.charlotteva.com.