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Solar facility planned near Clarksville, sparking concern / March 27, 2019
News that the Mecklenburg County Zoning Office has received an application request by Inman Solar to install a 5.01 mega watt solar energy facility on 33 acres of land at the corner of Highway 58 and Cow Road near Clarksville sparked immediate reactions from members of the Clarksville Town Council at Tuesday night’s meeting.

One member opined that the proposed facility would be too close to the town limits and to a potential growth area and another questioned whether the facility would be welcomed by the neighbors.

The site contains 107 acres, but only 33 will be covered with panels. It sits outside but within a mile of the Clarksville town limits.

Since the Town is deemed to be “an adjoining property owner” Mecklenburg County Zoning Administrator Robert Hendrick notified Town Manager Jeff Jones of an upcoming public hearing on the application. It is scheduled for Thursday, March 28 at 7:30 p.m. in the county administration building in Boydton.

The purpose of the hearing is to receive public input on whether the proposed project fits with the comprehensive plan.

The county’s comprehensive plan was amended by supervisors in 2017 after several companies filed applications for permits to install develop utility scale solar facilities on separate parcels near Chase City. The comprehensive plan, which serves as a guideline for the County’s land use and zoning, provides, as much as possible, that solar facilities should be located:

» on brownfields or near existing industrial uses, but not within growth boundaries;

» adjacent to or in close proximity to existing transmission lines;

» to avoid or minimize impact to prime farmland or farmlands of statewide importance as defined by the USDA and Commonwealth of Virginia;

» away from airports;

» outside any identified growth boundary and not within two (2) miles of any town boundary; and

» outside the viewshed of any scenic, cultural or recreational resources.

The comprehensive plan also contains the recommendation that any solar facility located near a town or visible from a major road be less than the targeted 300-500 acres and have additional screening and buffering. All solar projects must include soil, erosion and stormwater runoff plans to mitigate the negative effects on nearby properties and the general area.

In other business, the town was commended by Amanda Healy of the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development for the infrastructure and housing improvements made through the Southwest Downtown Community Project Phase I. Phase II of the project, which includes the reconstruction of a house at 509 Commerce Street is tentatively set to begin in mid-April.

Police Chief Ricky Wilkinson said his department received body cameras for the officers from the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s office. Wilkinson also presented the annual activity report for 2018. In addition to handling more than 500 traffic violations — accidents, speeding, parking, and others — officers in Clarksville investigated 58 crimes, including two assaults, six instances of breaking and entering, five grand larcenies, two petit larcenies, three shoplifting, three narcotics and 19 other criminal violations.

Alex Thompson has been hired to install a new drainage system and water sealing to the library in Clarksville. Water has been seeping into the building during periods of heavy rain.

The town attorney is reviewing a draft of the town’s new zoning ordinance. Jones said he expects the review to be completed by mid-April. When that is complete, the document will be presented to Council and then the public for their input before its adopted.

Jones said he is already aware of an addition that will have to be made to the document regarding Air B&B’s. Several parties recently contacted the town about possibly turning their property into an Air B&B.

Jones announced the reopening of Clarksville’s Farm Fresh Market Place starting April 27. It will continue throughout the summer on the second and fourth Saturdays of each month through Oct. 26, and will be open from 9 a.m.–12:30 p.m. Vendors who live within a 100-mile radius of Clarksville are invited to participate in the market, at the Virginia Avenue-Fourth Street Pocket Park.

Chamber Director Sheila Cuykendall said anyone needing more information or wanting to sell at the market should call the chamber office at (434) 374-8152.

Jones announced upcoming performances of “The Last Supper,” will take place April 14 and 16 at 7:30 p.m. in the Clarksville Fine Arts Center. Admission is free.

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