Supes give Otter Creek green light
The Otter Creek solar project has finally cleared it’s last hurdle and will get the special exception permit needed to move forward on the project. In a 5 to 3 vote last month the Mecklenburg County Planning Commission recommended that the project be approved with stipulations.
SolUnesco CEO Francis Hodsoll appeared before the Supervisors on Monday to, once more, provide a short overview of the proposed 60-mega-watt solar farm to be located on some 690 acres just northwest of the intersection of of Highway 92 and Spanish Grove Road. The Otter Creek project will be located close to the already approved Bluestone Project, a 70 mega-watt solar farm also on Spanish Grove Road.
Adjacent to Chase City, the Grasshopper project, an 80 mega-watt solar farm, will be located on a 900 plus acre site on Route 49 adjacent to the northern end of Chase City..
The Otter Creek Project is the last of the three projects to receive the special exception permit that will allow the farm to move forward.
Hodsoll told the Supervisors that the Otter Creek project, located outside of Chase City and “on the other side” of the Bluestone Project would not constrain future growth in Chase City. He also stressed that the project had agreed with and supported all of the conditions and stipulations handed down by the county. Some of those conditions included a 150 foot setback and a 100 foot buffer zone as well as provisions to manage and drainage water issues and decommissioning the project at the end of it’s useful life.
Hodsoll added that solar projects lead to new investments in an area due to increased interest and demand for clean energy sources. He added that he looked forward to working with the county to try to “maximize the local benefit of how to bring more jobs to the area.” During the public hearing, Phil Clark told the Supervisors that he had built a home on Spanish Grove Road in 1995 when the “road” was still a dirt road. He complained that should this project be approved he was going to drive some two miles seeing chain link fences and solar panels on the right, the left or both.
Clark also expressed concerns about the effect of wind on the panels as well as the effect of property values.
Clark also told the Supervisors that he was not against solar power but that he felt that three projects in one particular place.
“My question is when is enough enough,” asked Clark who urged the Supervisors to approve one or two projects “and see how it goes.”
Monty Hightower, a vocal supporter of the solar projects told the Supervisors that one of the farms would be located just 400 feet from his back door. “And I’m 100 percent supportive,” said Hightower. “Most people in Chase City are. Chase City is drying up. We don’t want to end up like Drakes Branch.”
Supervisor David Brankley abstained from voting on the issue. The remaining Supervisors voted unanimously to grant the special exception permit.
Speaking after the meeting, Hodsoll expressed his thanks to the Supervisors and the citizens who supported the project. He added that once state permits are issued, the project can break down. He said that should be in 2019.