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Halifax County supes okay Powell Creek Farm, Sunnybrook solar projects / April 05, 2018

Two more solar farm projects were awarded conditional use permits for construction in Halifax County Monday.

Halifax County Supervisors approved the applications during their regular April monthly meeting in Halifax. The action brings to four the number of solar farm conditional permits that have now been approved in Halifax County.

The projects that got the green light Monday are both being sought by Carolina Solar Energy. One is the Sunnybrook solar farm, a 51-megawatt facility planned at the intersection of 610 Clays Mill Road and 874 Vaughan Lane on 245.8 acres. An additional parcel will be added to the project and must go through a separate public hearing which has been set for the board’s May meeting.

The other project to win approval Monday is the 70-megawatt Powell’s Creek Farm solar facility, to be located at the intersection of 768 Hendricks Road and 711 Alton Post Office Road.

One couple, Dawn and Thomas Hendricks, spoke in opposition to the Powell’s Creek Farm project, after submitting a letter denoting their concerns to Halifax County Planners.

Thomas Hendricks continued to express his objections to the project before supervisors on Monday night, saying that while it might make sense to approve the permit, he and his wife were “emotionally unable to live there (beside a solar farm).”

Hendricks complained that drainage from the panels could leak into a nearby stream. He noted that the solar farm would be 760 feet from his property and he worries about the impact it may have on wildlife and the possible reduction on the real value of his property.

Hendricks was quick to point out that Carolina Solar officials, including the company president, are working with him to answer his various concerns. But he noted that providing more buffer around the solar farm was no solution since he would be looking at the facility from the upper floor bedroom windows of his home.

ED-6 Supervisor Stanley Brandon first asked that approval of the permit be delayed for another month to give the two sides more time to work out their differences. But chairman Dennis Witt said it would be unreasonable to seek negotiations between land owners and solar farm owners because he was not sure that additional time would result in any agreement between the two sides.

He noted that a tremendous amount of time and resources had been spent on the project with no agreement likely.

Brandon then asked that the setbacks along property lines and the roadway be raised to 100 feet and moved for approval of the permit, which passed on an 8-0 vote. This project calls for another parcel to be added and supervisors will consider a public hearing on the additional parcel to be held at their May meeting.

Speaking in favor of solar power, Chris Sandifer, an independent electrical engineer, told supervisors that he has served as a county commissioner in his home of Nash County, N.C. He noted that he has been involved in the approval of 34 solar farms. “Solar farms make good neighbors,” he told the board, “it’s a positive for everyone.”

In earlier public hearings, the Board unanimously approved a conditional use permit (CUP) for George Sindeband in ED-3 which will allow him to sell farm products such as lotions, toothpaste, soaps, deodorant and body oils at 14208 Mountain Road.

They also approved a CUP for Ammon Miller in ED-1 which will allow him to sell surplus items such as furniture, clothes, hardware and toys at 1161 Pierces Trail, Nathalie.

In yet another public hearing Supervisors approved the withdrawal of nine parcels of land from the county’s Oak Heights Agricultural Forestal district. The owner of the property and the developer have each been sent notices of the amount of roll back taxes that must be paid when the parcels are removed from the AgF district.

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