Supervisors green light more Charlotte County solar projects

Published 8:30 am Monday, March 4, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Despite pushback and disapproval from neighbors and citizens during a public hearing on Feb. 14, the Board of Supervisors (BOS) gave the green light to two new Charlotte County solar facilities, with plans for a third in March. BOS Chairman Gary Walker, who had turned over control of the meeting to Vice Chairman Bailey at the beginning, made the motion to approve both the Charlotte Solar 1 Gibson Project and the Charlotte Solar 2 Austin Goldman Project.

The majority of the board agreed, with a 5-2 vote on the Gibson plan. Supervisors Davis and Carwile voted against. The vote for the Goldman project, meanwhile, was 6-1, with Carwile the only no vote.

BOS Chairman Gary Walker was at the meeting, but turned over control to Vice Chairman Bailey at the beginning.


While most public comments resulted in disapproval of the solar project, a few citizens did speak in favor. 

Those who favored the project were landowners, their families, and others with property involved in solar projects. 

One landowner, Justin Layne, said he was in support of landowner rights in Charlotte County. “It is absolutely absurd for a tax-paying landowner to have to go through such madness from others,” Layne said. “Others” had just as much right to buy the land when it was sold or whatever the circumstances may be. The problem with solar coming into this county is mostly jealous humans. It baffles me to hear the comments and division among neighbors. When I was a kid, it was the hog farms, then the chicken farms. I’ve also heard neighbors name bashing over the use of biosolids and it was going to poison all of us, blah blah blah. At the end of the day, life went on, and was it all worth it?”

Layne said that at the end of the day, solar is probably the strongest opportunity for the county’s economy. “We have all heard the jokes about the power plant; Halifax got the dollars, we got the smoke,” Layne said. “If we as a country don’t accept it, the next county will.”

Friends of Charlotte, Inc., an organization that began as a way to save and protect farmland, have become very outspoken against solar energy. 

“Approval of these projects will cause harm to those surrounding it.” said the organization’s chairman, Daniel Dixon. “If approved, will they severely diminish the value of nearby real estate; create soil and freshwater contamination and depletion, runoff nightmares, and severe erosion; introduce toxins hazardous to health; increase fire risk and property insurance hikes; create shifts in local weather previously absent from the area; and traffic safety risks to travelers in our farm community.” 

Dixon continued to say that local inhabitants would be robbed of their quiet enjoyment of their surroundings. “And by chance, if one might think there’s nothing to all of this, reasonable minds would ask: Why do the local towns have a minimum ½ mile of protection insulating them from these particular harms? And just where does good solar end and bad solar begin?” Dixon said.

Another project on the table is a 149.9 megawatt CPV County Line Solar project, which Andy Carwile, the chair of the Charlotte County Planning Commission, is part of and has consistently voted to recommend solar projects’ approval.

The board took no action on a conditional use permit for this project during the February meeting