Another 1,775-acre solar facility proposed

Published 6:20 pm Thursday, July 8, 2021

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Charlotte County may become home to yet another solar facility.

NOVI Energy has submitted its application to the county to develop a 218MW solar project located in the area of Welsch Tract Road and Bethlehem Road near Charlotte Court House.

According to the developer’s application, the project known as Tall Pines Solar will be located on approximately 1,775 acres of land owned by four different landowners.

The project will connect with existing transmission lines that traverse the site.

Based in Novi, Michigan, NOVI Energy is also the developer of the recently approved 150 MW Courthouse Solar project.

According to Assistant County Administrator Monica Elder, county staff received the application June 7. The project is currently under review.

According to Elder, after reviewing the Tall Pines application, a letter was sent to NOVI Energy late last week indicating a list that included several items specifically required in the zoning regulations but was omitted from the application.

“Most of the items requested are needed by staff to clarify information provided in the application so that we can fully review the application and will be better able to respond to inquiries from citizens, planning commissioners, and the Board of Supervisors as we move through the review process.” Elder said.

According to application documents, NOVI Energy plans limit wetland disturbance, noting that the project will prioritize reusing existing roads and culverts in wetlands areas.

“No new road crossings will be constructed in wetland areas, and fence crossings in streams and wetland areas will be limited to the extent practical,” NOVI President Anand Gangadharan said.

When it comes to buffers, the developer noted in the application that the entire perimeter of the project includes a continuous vegetative buffer of at least 25 feet.

The buffer will consist of undisturbed forested areas that currently exist, native pollinator plants, evergreen trees, and shrubs sized and selected in consultation with Charlotte County and Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.

According to NOVI, the vegetative buffers will have no planned tree cutting or clearing of surface-level vegetation, nor will roads, fences, or other project improvements be made in these areas.

The project is expected to have six gated entrances to public roads in the following locations:

• Two entrances at Welsh Tract Road near the middle of the site.

• One entrance on Tall Pines Lane near the south side of the site.

• One entrance on Fox Hollow Lane near the middle of the site.

• Two entrances along Bethlehem Road on the north side of the site.

Once NOVI addresses the deficiencies in the application materials and the application is found to be complete, it will then be referred to the Charlotte County Planning Commission.