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Supervisors put off vote on Lady Bug solar permit

SoVaNow.com / March 13, 2019
Much to the dismay of Bracey-area residents who packed the hearing room in Boydton Monday night, the Mecklenburg County Board of Supervisors granted a request by Cypress Creek Renewables to delay a hearing on the company’s application to build its Lady Bug utility-scale solar facility on Lake Gaston.

Cypress Creek is seeking a special exception permit to install the proposed Lady Bug 65-megawatt solar array on three properties spanning nearly 1,200 acres near the intersection of Red Lawn Road and Highway 903 near Bracey.

William Shewmake, an attorney for Cypress Creek, asked for the delay, telling supervisors the company did not learn of the scheduled public hearing until March 6. As a result, several consultants for Cypress Creek were not able to attend Monday night’s meeting, he continued.

“We scrambled as best we can since discovering on Friday, but there is still a bit more work to do,” Shewmake said, noting that the additional work includes suggested conditions that supervisors could impose on the Lady Bug project to make it more palatable to local residents.

Shewmake’s request was greeted with groans and murmurs of disbelief from audience members who live near the proposed site. During the vote by supervisors on a motion to delay the hearing, some of these same audience members yelled “nay,” when Chairman Glenn Barbour asked if any board member was opposed to the delay.

David Brankley was the only supervisor to vote against the requested continuance and Jim Jennings abstained. The seven other supervisors — Claudia Lundy, Dan Tanner, Glanzy Spain, Barbour, Gregg Gordon, Sterling Wilkinson and Andy Hargrove — agreed to hold the public hearing at the next meeting of the board, April 8 at 9:30 a.m.

Notwithstanding the delay, several residents who live near the project site used the public comment period of Monday night’s meeting to express their opposition to the project because of its location on a scenic byway (Highway 903) and along a designated blueway (Lake Gaston). Said Lynn Cisar to board members, “Regardless of your feelings about solar farms and green energy which we do need, I would just encourage you to just think about this location and whether sacrificing that area, that neighborhood and Bracey makes sense.”

Skip Foy, who has solar panels on his home in Bracey, also said the chosen site is not appropriate for a utility-scale solar facility. “With or without Lady Bug coming in or any industrial endeavor that we do in Mecklenburg County, we seriously need to look at Red Lawn Road” for safety reasons and the condition of the road, Foy said.

He also criticized Cypress Creek officials for what he said were misrepresentations about the project, noting that none of the more than 10,000 homes that will be powered by solar energy generated at the Lady Bug site will be in Mecklenburg County. He also noting that no one can say how much, if any revenue will flow to the county from the projected $63 million investment Cypress Creek said it will make to build Lady Bug.

One resident, Al Freer, chastised supervisors for agreeing to delay the public hearing and burdening those wanting to speak against the project. He called the decision of the board “unconscionable,” explaining that many of the residents work and might be unable to attend a daytime meeting. The April meeting of the Board of Supervisors begins at 9:30 a.m.

Freer also shared his skepticism with Shewmake’s claim that Cypress Creek Renewables did not know that a public hearing was scheduled on their permit request until three days before the hearing. “If I were them, I would know everything that was going on in this county and I would be here.”

Jennings suggested the board put the brakes on approving additional solar utility power plants — Jennings refuses to call them solar farms because, he says, they are not farms — until one is up and running in the Mecklenburg County. None of the three facilities that have been permitted have been built, Jennings said, adding he wants to see the impact a solar power plant has on the neighbors and the community.

Barbour closed the meeting with a message to those who are using social media to attack him and his family because of comments they’ve made about solar energy projects. “It truly amazes me how adults react when they don’t get their way,” said Barbour. “In this age of social media, it has become the most vitriolic and vengeful outcry from people I have ever seen. It is ridiculous, and I’ve got news for a lot of people that if you consider it to be some form of harassment or whatever, a lot of us wear big boy pants now. We don’t worry about that sort of thing. But I wish you all would grow up. Please just grow up.”



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Comments

SOunds like Barbour needs to be voted out of office if he complains about the people that put him there. Also these "solar farms" are not getting a 80% tax break per the state so not much tax money will come from them and they are an eye sore. Halifax approved several and now are slowing the others in the pipe line down. If you want to see how ugly they are just go down 501 to roxboro.


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