On Wednesday night, the Augusta County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to once again consider a special-use permit request from Community Energy Solar that’s necessary before the company can build solar panels on 1,000 acres on multiple parcels around Stuarts Draft and Lyndhurst.
No matter how the board votes, many in the community likely will be unhappy with the decision on what has become a contentions proposal that’s engendered much debate since first coming to the public’s attention more than a year ago.
The Augusta County Planning Commission voted to support the project, but the Board of Supervisors tabled action following a packed public hearing on Feb. 27.
On Tuesday, Gerald Garber, the board’s chairman, said he expected a vote to take place on the request Wednesday night.
The board heard a range of opinions during the February hearing, both from people in support of the panels and from those who are against them.
Opponents’ chief concerns are about the proposed solar farm’s effect on the environment and impacts on neighboring property values and infrastructure.
Supporters argue the solar farm is a good use of the land and that the landowners have a right to develop their property as they see fit.
If approved and the solar farm is built, it would be Augusta County’s first.
Last June, the county adopted a change in its zoning ordinance that allows for solar panels on land zoned general agriculture.
During several “listening sessions” last summer, details of the proposal emerged.
If approved by supervisors, landowners leasing their property to Community Energy Solar will receive annual lease payments for 35 years, and Augusta County will get annual tax payments based on the equipment used.
In its proposal, Community Energy Solar has said the 125-megawatt project would provide solar energy to a large and unnamed corporate buyer.
The project would include extensive buffering and panels no taller than 8 feet high, according to the initial plan. The areas with panels would be fenced in.
If approved, the solar farm would take nine to 12 months to build, company officials have said.
The board meets at 7 p.m. in the Augusta County Government Center, 18 Government Center Lane, Verona.