Archived Story

Board to consider solar-farm ordinance

Published 5:26pm Friday, September 6, 2013

The Beaufort County Board of Commissioners will consider adopting a proposed solar-farm ordinance — that’s been modified in recent days — during its meeting Monday,

The original proposed ordinance required a 75-foot setback from the right-of-way line on a road, a 50-foot setback from a property boundary line and 100-foot setback from a residence or business. It also included a requirement for a vegetative buffer around an energy project, such as a solar farm, that reaches 6 feet in height within five years of the buffer being planted.

The proposed ordinance now requires solar collectors and electrical appurtenances to be set back at least 50 feet from all property lines, at least 50 feet from any right of way of any public or private dedicated subdivision road and at least 100 feet away from any residence or business. It also requires an evergreen vegetative buffer adjacent to any residential or commercial structure that fall within 100 feet of the setback boundary, with the buffer extending 35 feet in each direction from the center of such a structure, thus screening a total of 70 feet opposite the structure.

A buffer must be a minimum of 4 feet tall when planted and reach 6 feet in height by five years after being planted.

If adopted, the proposed ordinance would not apply to existing solar farms or other energy projects.

The impetus for developing the proposed ordinance surfaced earlier this year when Paul Woolard, who lives next to the solar-farm project at White Post, complained to commissioners about the project’s effects on his property.

After hearing Woolard’s complaints and discussing the matter, the board, with a unanimous vote, directed county staff to request the White Post solar-farm developers — SunEnergy1 and Duke Energy Renewables — to find a new entrance to the project to prevent further damage to Woolard’s property.

At the meeting where Woolard aired his concerns, Commissioner Gary Brinn said he would like to have a county ordinance that would “guarantee that no property owner would every have to step out of their house and look at that.” Brinn called for a setback of at least 100 feet from the right of way.

“I’d like to have more, but I will take the 100 feet,” he said then.

At a board meeting in early August, Brinn said he and some other commissioners had some concerns about the proposed ordinance and wanted an opportunity to make any needed changes.


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