Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Northampton enacts photo voltaic farm moratorium – The Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald


Northampton has applied a photo voltaic farm moratorium

Published 5:06 pm Friday, July 5, 2024

JACKSON – After rising issues from residents about native photo voltaic services, the Northampton County Board of Commissioners voted to place a brief moratorium on new photo voltaic farm development at their June assembly. 27.

An opponent of photo voltaic farms displayed an indication on the June 27 assembly of the Northampton Commissioners. Staff Photo by Holly Taylor

A public listening to was held at that assembly to gather enter from folks in favor or in opposition to the moratorium proposal.

Board Chair Charles Tyner famous, as he has in previous photo voltaic farm discussions, that he would not like how the photo voltaic services are being faraway from the farm, however the board would not have the authority to cease the house owners. of the land to do what they need with their properties.

“There is not any regulation on the books within the state of North Carolina that claims photo voltaic farms cannot be performed,” he pressured earlier than the general public listening to started.

But the general public who spoke in the course of the listening to — primarily from the Gaston space — centered their feedback in opposition to photo voltaic services on the whole, particularly these at the moment being constructed of their neighborhoods.

“I’m an opponent of photo voltaic farms,” ​​stated Ruby Vincent Garner, who has expressed issues about security, diminished wildlife habitats, diminished property and farm values, air pollution, and extra. .

Sylvia Vincent, who lives within the Voltaire neighborhood, additionally cited security as a serious concern, calling photo voltaic panels “harmful.”

“You proceed to permit the set up of those panels with out regard for the welfare of the neighborhood. I’m not speaking about just some in a single area. We are speaking a few saturated neighborhood,” defined Vincent.

Some residents additionally spoke in favor of stopping the tasks surrounding their neighborhood or eradicating them. And others simply need to know extra about all the course of concerned in approving photo voltaic services.

Tyner identified that if an organization applies for a allow from the county’s Planning and Zoning Department to construct a photo voltaic facility and meets all the necessities, then they’re allowed to proceed with their tasks. Such permits don’t go to the Board of Commissioners.

“You’re all asking us to do one thing we won’t do,” Tyner defined. “The regulation doesn’t permit us to do this. Please do not forget that.”

Commissioner Ed Martin used the instance of somebody who needs to get a allow to construct a shed. Martin famous that the commissioners can’t refuse to construct the home if it meets all of the laws.

Commissioner Kelvin Edwards acknowledged the issues of residents, however famous {that a} moratorium would solely cease new tasks from being accredited. Whatever goes on can go on.

Board Attorney Scott McKellar confirmed to PEOPLE that, underneath Northampton County’s zoning ordinance, photo voltaic farms are permitted to be used in agricultural/residential districts.

“The moratorium doesn’t have an effect on any photo voltaic farm that’s already permitted and accredited. It is in opposition to the regulation,” stated McKellar.

When the general public listening to ended, Commissioner Geneva Faulkner motioned to approve the moratorium, and Martin seconded. The vote was unanimous in favor.

The moratorium will expire on June 30, 2025.

According to the moratorium decision, “extra data must be obtained and reviewed by the Northampton County Planning Board and the Northampton County Board of Commissioners involving such issues as lack of farmland, land sorts, aesthetics, affect on companies associated to county agriculture, attainable reductions in adjoining property values, environmental impacts, and different issues, to totally overview the county’s method to planning on this space and to develop suggestions.

During the moratorium, the Planning Board can conduct a research of photo voltaic farm facility points, after which suggest to commissioners what ordinance modifications, if any, must be made.

As beforehand reported by the News Herald, Northampton Commissioners accredited modifications concerning photo voltaic farm laws to the county’s zoning ordinance at their June 3 assembly. Those additions tighten the laws that have to be adopted by photo voltaic farm builders. Part of the brand new modifications embrace stipulations that decommissioning plans have to be recorded on the county Register of Deeds workplace and have to be up to date at the least each 5 years or upon renewal of possession.

Later in the course of the June 27 assembly, Interim Code Enforcement Director Derrick Bennett launched the board to Reginald Bynum, a consultant from the Center for Energy Education (C4EE) a nonprofit positioned in Halifax County.

Bynum stated there have been a whole lot of “misunderstandings” about photo voltaic power in the course of the public listening to, and that C4EE has data they’ll share with commissioners, which will also be shared with residents.

Tyner advised creating some public boards the place residents might get their questions answered.

Northampton County beforehand applied a moratorium on issuing photo voltaic farm permits from July 2021 till the tip of April 2022.

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