Supervisors say no to solar farms

In 2020, supervisors began the process of adding commercial-scale solar installations as a permitted use in the zoning ordinance for agricultural areas. Last week they shut down the process.

At their February 28 meeting, the planning department presented supervisors with an amendment to the text of the zoning ordinance to authorize them. This is the amendment to the text that the supervisors have asked the planning commission to draw up.

Jordan Mitchell, the county’s director of community development, said Campbell County licensed these utilities and had a lot of trouble — erosion issues and road damage — while building one. Mitchell said amending the text before supervisors resolves these issues.

“It seems like there are a lot of uncertainties,” said District 6 Supervisor Bob Davis.

Davis felt County was diving too soon and bracing for trouble. Ge felt that it would not be good to move forward at this time.

Board chairman John Sharp, who has served on the supervisory board for 17 years, said it was the first time the planning commission had sent them something without a recommendation.

The action before the supervisors was a vote to initiate the public hearing process on the text amendment,

“We need to move this to a public hearing,” District 2 Supervisor Edgar Tuck said.

District 1 Supervisor Mickey Johnson wanted to hear from the public, but felt uncomfortable with the idea and the timing.

“I’m opposed to moving forward,” Davis replied.

Davis said it would destroy Bedford County farmland and increase the cost of land.

“I don’t see any reason to move things forward,” he said.

Sharp called it crony capitalism, noting that solar power is only competitive because of federal subsidies.

“I oppose it,” he said.

A motion to be tabled if unsuccessful by a vote of 4-3.

District 5 Supervisor Tommy Scott then decided to kill the project.

“We don’t know enough,” he said.

His motion passed 5-2 with Tuck and Johnson casting both dissenting votes.

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