Courthouse Solar still in discussion

Published 1:36 pm Thursday, January 14, 2021

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Following an hour-long closed session meeting on Monday, Jan.11, the Charlotte County Board of Supervisors (BOS) made no decision on a siting agreement for the county’s latest proposed solar project.

The meeting was held in a closed session due to consultation with legal counsel regarding negotiating a siting agreement with NOVI Energy, the solar project applicant.

According to the application summary, NOVI Energy proposes to construct a solar facility known as Courthouse Solar on 1,354 acres just southwest of Charlotte Court House on 12 parcels owned by Blue Rock Resources, LLC, Ridgeway Farm LLC, and Robert Locke.

According to County Administrator Dan Witt, no decision was made during the closed session. Staff was directed to continue negotiating a siting agreement with NOVI Energy and bring back three options to the board.

The siting agreement legislation intends to allow the local governments to address certain community needs and allow the solar project developer to help address those needs.

The siting agreement may include terms and conditions including mitigation of any impacts of such solar facility; financial compensation to address the locality’s capital needs as set out in the locality’s capital improvement plan, its current fiscal budget or its fiscal funds balance policy; or assistance with deploying broadband in the locality.

Over the past months, the Courthouse Solar project has been met with both support and opposition during public hearings held by both the planning commission and the BOS.

Citizens have expressed concerns over the site construction entrance, wetlands, set back requirements, taxes, toxically levels, land use, and the overall disruption to the aesthetics of the area. 

During Monday’s meeting, the BOS also directed staff to make changes to the conditional use permit of the project to remove all references to the use of Shady Oaks Road for project construction traffic since the applicant will be building and using an alternative entrance during the construction phase for that portion of the project.

In addition, amending landscaping and screening requirements to provide additional specifications on ground cover, a required timeline for establishing groundcover, and minimum heights for plantings used for screening; to require the use of local Virginia native trees for screening; and to require half the width of the buffer be used to provide screening for adjacent properties was suggested.

Other changes included expanding all buffers to a minimum of 100 feet and providing a 250-foot buffer for the Eagle Eye Hunt Club property. Another change required  reforestation after removing the facility including an evergreen and deciduous mix of local Virginia native species.