Solar use amendments discussion continues

Published 9:52 am Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The Charlotte County Planning Commission met Aug. 28 and continued discussion regarding proposed zoning amendments for solar uses in the county.

According to County Purchaser and Planning Agent Monica Elder, only one change was made regarding the proposed zoning amendments during the meeting.

“The Planning Commission made one revision to the proposed solar amendments last night, adding letters of credit as an additional means of guaranteeing the cost of decommissioning,” said Elder.

She said letters of credit included in the proposed amendments will be irrevocable letters of credit, meaning it cannot be canceled or modified unless all parties are in agreeance, including the buyer, seller and issuing bank.

“The Commission also voted to request that the Board of Supervisors schedule a new joint public hearing on the proposed amendments,” said Elder at that time.

The hearing is currently set for Oct. 4 at 7 p.m.

A special called meeting of the Planning Commission will be held immediately after the meeting “to consider a recommendation regarding the proposed zoning amendments for solar uses,” according to information on the county’s website.

“Following the public hearing on June 11, the Planning Commission requested a legal opinion from the County Attorney regarding the County’s right to enter property to carry out the decommissioning of utility-scale solar facilities as provided for in the proposed amendments,” said County Planner and Purchasing Agent Monica Elder.

In June, a joint public hearing between the Charlotte County Board of Supervisors and the Charlotte County Planning Commission resulted in no recommendation to the Supervisors at their June meeting regarding solar use amendments in the county.

At that time, Elder anticipated the matter would come before the Board of Supervisors at their July meeting, however, Elder said a response was still pending from the attorney.

A recommendation regarding solar uses in the county has been tabled several times previously, in light of concerns surrounding the language of the amendments.

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 Elder previously in March.

In July, the County Attorney provided an opinion regarding the decommissioning of utility-scale solar facilities and right of entry, according to Elder previously.

A motion was passed during the July meeting to include in the language that the project area be defined as the fenced in area and buffers only.