Commissioners deny conditional use permit for solar farm

Abby Cavenaugh Editor

January 9, 2014

After three months of deliberating, the Anson County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to deny Strata Solar Development’s request for a conditional use permit in order to locate a solar farm on Carver Street in Wadesboro.

The vote was made during the commissioners’ regular monthly meeting Jan. 7.

Although many residents of the Carver Street community packed the meeting room, Commission Chair Anna Baucom said the commissioners could only deal with what was said at the public hearing in October. “A statement was made that there were no tax incentives for locating a solar farm here,” Baucom said. “I know that to be false. For that reason, I will be voting for this motion.”

Commissioner Harold Smith motioned to deny the request, and it was seconded by Vice Chairman Ross Streater.

Commissioner Jim Sims said he could look into the audience and see what the people wanted. “I feel there are other areas this could go,” Commissioner Vancine Sturdivant said. Baucom reiterated that her reason for denying the request was that the misrepresentation of facts by Strata Solar cast doubt on their entire presentation.

Bishop Walter Ellerbe spoke for the community and thanked the commissioners for denying the request. “It’s not that we want to hinder progress,” he said. “We’re just concerned about the elders in our community. We hear reports that it’s safe and then we hear that it’s unsafe.”

Ellerbe said that the solar farm in its proposed location would have been literally right outside one elderly woman’s back door.

Also at the January meeting, the commissioners considered an update to the county’s Renewable Energy Ordinance. Planner Josie Lodder provided the commissioners with a draft ordinance from the planning board.

“We felt there needed to be a discussion on locating a solar farm in our community,” Lodder said. “We have developed a very clear set of buffers.”

Lodder told the commissioners there was no need for an immediate decision, because it was a lot to consider. She stated that the county should consider visibility if another solar farm request is received. “We don’t want people driving into our county on 74 and seeing a solar farm,” she said.

The county would also restrict the size of any potential solar farms and ensure that the agreement is bonded.

Audit Report

County Manager Lawrence Gatewood reported that the June 30, 2013 audit report is ready to be submitted. “We had no daily deposit infractions for the third year in a row,” Gatewood said.

The county has also maintained a $6.2 million fund balance, and received a three-star rating from Standard and Poor’s. “It’s been a very long time since that’s happened,” Gatewood said.

The commissioners also unanimously approved an amendment to the audit contract with J.B. Watson & Co.

Other Business

In other business at the January meeting, the commissioners:

  • heard an update on the animal shelter, and approved an opening date of April 2014.
  • unanimously approved County Manager Gatewood’s request to declare the old hospital buildings and roughly 2 acres surplus property and move forward with the sealed bid process to sell the property.
  • heard updates on the progress at the new Emergency Services Center and the new Board of Elections office. Gatewood said two open houses are planned at the Emergency Services Center — one on Jan. 29 for EMS and 911 personnel, and another on Feb. 2 for the general public. The Board of Elections’ new headquarters is “nine months to a year ahead of schedule,” he said, and will be ready for move-in by the first week in February.
  • got a look at the new ACTS logo. Gatewood reminded the board that ACTS is public transportation, and citizens shouldn’t hesitate to contact ACTS if they need a ride to a job or doctor’s appointment.
  • agreed to look at re-evaluate the county’s water and sewer priority list, since residents on Phillips Road have specifically asked to be hooked in to the county’s lines.
  • rescheduled the November meeting date to Nov. 10, due to a conflict with Election Day on Nov. 4.