A change for Charlotte County: Supervisors lift solar moratorium

Published 8:00 am Thursday, April 20, 2023

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The Charlotte County Board of Supervisors (BOS) has rescinded a moratorium it approved last August on accepting any Conditional Use Permit (CUP) applications for solar facilities.

The moratorium was set to be in effect until January 2024.

During the March BOS meeting, Carol Ching, an attorney from Roanoke who has been working with several landowners regarding the moratorium, addressed the board.

Ching told members that the moratorium was invalid under the Dillon Rule. “It would be a waste of the county’s resources to incur legal fees to continue to pursue that moratorium,” Ching said.

What is the Dillon Rule? 

The Dillon Rule is the principle that local government only exercises (1) powers expressly granted by the state, (2) powers necessarily and fairly implied from the grant of power, and (3) powers crucial to the existence of local government.

Last August supervisor Garland Hamlett Jr. told the board he felt there needed to be a pause on solar projects and to see what is to come before approving more projects and continued to add that he was unsure of the effects of the projects that have passed, such as water runoff or rising temperatures for solar panels.

During that meeting, Supervisor Walt Bailey added, he had concerns about more projects coming into the County in addition to the four large projects already approved. “I like the idea of there being an application period and would like to pause, not stop,” Bailey said.

Time to ‘stop and evaluate’ after solar moratorium

Hamlett said, “We need to stop and evaluate,” adding that he was not against solar, but with the County’s limited resources and so many unknowns, a pause would be best. Hamlett then asked for a motion of a solar moratorium until Jan. 1, 2026, but with no second, the motion failed.

At that meeting, Supervisor Anthony Reeves said he didn’t think a pause was needed and wanted to hear suggestions from the Planning Commission

In the end, supervisors agreed to a Jan. 1, 2024 pause and allocated $10,000 to hire the consulting firm, The Berkley Group to work with the Planning Commission and help expedite the process of defining within the County’s Comprehensive Plan specific metrics that will guide the

Planning Commission and Board of Superiors when reviewing future conditional use permits for solar projects.