Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors could increase restrictions on construction of solar panel farms

Published: Mar. 13, 2023 at 5:54 PM EDT
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PITTSYLVANIA COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) - The Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors is planning to put restraints on additional solar power farms in the county.

At the last Legislative Committee meeting, county staff recommended changes to the current solar ordinance. They want no more than 2% of the total acreage within a single zoning district to be approved for use as a solar energy facility.

The new ordinance would also increase the buffer distance in between solar farms from 1 mile to 5 miles.

“It has taken a lot of agricultural land out,” said Darrell Dalton, Chairman of the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors. “Then, we have residents that don’t like looking at those solar panels in their neighborhood. I heard the citizens loud and clear that we have reached the point that the board needs to really think about putting the brakes on and slowing it up.”

At a recent planning commission meeting, Hillandale Solar proposed a special use permit for a solar farm on 1,500 acres in the Banister District. Those in opposition fear a decrease in property value and the environmental impacts.

“Am I getting a tax credit?” asked Charles Bates, community member. “Am I getting any power out of this thing? No. I’m asking to not have any more of these in the county.”

“Fencing off 1,000 acres or 500 acres is not of any benefit to the wildlife out there - the deer, the turkey or any other wildlife,” said Jeff Daum, community member.

Those in favor of the project believe it will lower property taxes and generate revenue for the county.

“I support it,” said Joel Cathey, Charlotte County resident. “Charlotte County has a fair amount of solar. This past year, we had our property taxes reduced. Everybody in the county had their property taxes reduced because of the benefits that came into the county.”

The Board of Supervisors will vote on the ordinance change at its March 21 meeting.

“On the pro-side, the homeowner generates some income, which is good for them. There is some potential tax revenue for the county. A couple of the facilities, since some laws have changed, we will generate some revenue off of in the next 20 or 30 years. That’ll help with our tax rate and stuff like that. But, I think we probably have enough right now.”

There will be a public hearing for the Hillandale Solar farm at the board of zoning appeals meeting Monday at 6 p.m.