3-megawatt solar farm set for June 25 IW Planning Commission hearing

Published 1:00 pm Friday, June 21, 2024

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After opposing two proposed solar farms in May, Isle of Wight County’s Planning Commission will consider a third on June 25.

According to a public notice published in The Smithfield Times’ June 12 edition, a public hearing is scheduled during the commission’s 6 p.m. meeting on applicant Elk Development LLC’s and landowners William Pennie Jr.’s and Teresa Crocker’s conditional use permit application for a 3-megawatt solar farm on 27.32 acres bordering Old Stage Highway and Morgarts Beach Road, just under a mile from Hardy Elementary.

The Elk Development hearing had originally been scheduled for May 28 along with hearings on two larger solar farms, one a 44-megawatt project dubbed Moonlight Solar at Moonlight and Burwells Bay roads and Sycamore Cross, which would span more than 2,400 acres across the westernmost edge of the Isle of Wight-Surry county line. The Elk Development hearing was postponed to June 25 after Isle of Wight County Community Development Director Amy Ring told the commissioners the notice advertising Elk’s May 28 hearing had listed an incorrect acreage and that her department was “researching some outstanding issues.”

The original notice, published in the Times’ May 15 edition, had incorrectly listed 94.21 acres as the total acreage of the parcel on which the solar farm would be located.

The Planning Commission opposed Moonlight and Sycamore Cross, with Commissioner Brian Carroll describing the two as “miles and miles of solar panels,” though Elk Development, if approved, would be among the county’s smallest solar farms. County supervisors voted 4-0 with one abstention to deny Moonlight its requested conditional use permit.

The commissioners had previously split 6-4 in 2023 in favor of a similar 3-megawatt project slated for 18 acres of a 148-acre farm bordering Courthouse Highway and Poorhouse Road near the county’s courthouse; county supervisors voted later that year to approve it.