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County supervisor Michael Ferguson looks over his notes

At last week’s Greensville County Board of Supervisors Meeting’s public hearing the Board of Supervisors approved the recommendation from the Planning Commission that no changes be made to the Comprehensive Plan Amendment Related to Solar, except that the changes are guidelines and not the law.  

On Aug. 19 the Greensville County Board of Supervisors received a copy of the Comprehensive Plan Amendments Related to Solar. The Board instructed the planning commission to hold a public hearing to get public input on the proposed changes to the Comprehensive Plan. The amended plans the planning commission recommended were presented to the board at the Oct. 21 Greensville County Board of Supervisors meeting. 

The original draft of the plan said there should be no solar facilities within 2 miles of other existing or permitted solar facilities. They now recommend 1.5 miles. 

The Planning Commission recommended 75% PV coverage outside of growth areas with distances from other towns greater or equal to a mile, distance from other solar facilities greater or equal to 1.5 miles and the distance from transmission lines less than or equal to a mile. The original PV coverage was 65%. 

The Comprehensive Plan is general by state law. It is a guide, so it is not binding. 

“You can have action taken by the Board that must be consistent with zoning, but can be inconsistent with the Comp [comprehensive] Plan,” Lin Pope, the planning director for Greensville County, said.

A Comprehensive Plan is not irrelevant simply because it is not binding. It is a general statement of the Board and how they think Greensville County should be developed for land use purposes over a period of time.

The Zoning Text Amendment relates to solar and the inclusion of a new solar facility. Changes were made to the amendment. The facility’s security fence will be 6 feet, not 7 feet, and there will be more than one access corridor for wildlife to navigate through the solar facility. The solar facility has 36 months instead of 18 months to receive a building permit.

Many Greensville County citizens were concerned about the Comprehensive Plan. Voice Adams said he did not like there being any limits on citizen’s land. 

“I don’t feel like you being elected gives you the right to tell any landowner what to do with their land,” Adams said. 

He said eventually Greensville County will not thrive and asked why the county spends hours on solar technology instead of trying to make schools better or addressing water problems. 

“We’ve got real problems, and we’ve wasted countless hours in meetings, phone calls, emails [and] research on telling landowners what they can do with their land. That’s mind-blowing to me,” Adams said. 

Based on the news around the country, the government tells people what they can and can’t do.

“I don’t want Greensville County to jump into that the same way the federal government has,” Adams said. 

Sheila Ferguson, a citizen of Greensville County, said the Board of Supervisors holds the authority to approve or disapprove special permits. 

“Why do you need more rules? Who and what exactly are you protecting,” Ferguson said. 

Jimmy Ferguson, a citizen of Greensville County, said the purpose of a public hearing is to listen to what the public says and be guided somewhat by their feelings. 

“If you listen to the public then you won’t make any changes,” Ferguson said. 

Jennifer Sherwood with Clearway Energy said she worries past decisions will affect the grounds to approve or deny an applicant. 

“While we understand the Comp Plan serves as guidance, we are concerned with how the proposed cited criteria may be utilized and practiced,” Sherwood said. 

Clearway Energy requested reconsideration to omit the Comprehensive Plan Proposal’s statement for new utility scale projects to be located greater than 1.5 miles from previously permitted projects or within 1 mile of existing transmission. 

“The guidelines appear overly restrictive and can be mischaracterized as firm limits in future 2232,” Sherwood said. 

If the Board of Supervisors includes the guidelines, Clearway Energy requested using specific language that states citing criteria are only guidelines. They asked for language to be used that would allow applicants and landowners the opportunity to demonstrate compliance with citing criteria. 

Michael Ferguson, Chairman of the Greensville Virginia Board of Supervisors, said he talked to everyone he needed to about the Comprehensive Plan and they all told him it is only a guideline. 

“You have land. You want to do with your land what you want to. We’re not telling you that you can’t do it. All we’re saying is that we’ve got to have some type of guidelines,” Ferguson said. 

The Amendments to the Zoning Ordinances Related to Solar was approved.