JAMES CITY COUNTY — A 67-acre solar farm received approval for a special use permit during the Oct. 10 James City County Board of Supervisors meeting.
The large-scale solar farm, called Richmond Road Solar Project, will be located at 8659 and 8659A Richmond Road and is projected to produce enough electricity to power 1,000 homes a year.
According to the application, “the project is intended to operate for a term of 30 years with the potential for two additional five-year periods. The owner will sublease the property for a term of up to 40 years. At the end of the sublease term, the owner will cease operation of the project and execute a Final Decommissioning Plan agreed to by the landlord and project owner.”
Expected to generate more than $875,000 in direct revenue, the project is zoned on rural/agricultural land versus commercial use.
The staff report presented to the Board of Supervisors states that “while not a typical primary use, staff finds this use could be appropriate in Rural Lands as solar farms in general are low intensity uses (traffic, noise, etc.) after the initial construction phase, and could be temporary in nature and return to agricultural or forestal use at the conclusion of the lease term/decommissioning. The majority of the land has been cleared for farming, is surrounded by natural wooded growth, and the applicant will provide enhanced buffering along Richmond Road.”
The panels will rotate throughout the day and not exceed 17 feet in height. The developer is committed to providing an enhanced buffer and screening from adjacent property owners to limit visual disruption, according to the application.
“It produces positive revenue. And, one of the biggest things is local use of the electricity. The really critical thing is that this will not be visible when passing by,” Board member Jim Icenhour said in favor of the project.
The motion was approved unanimously.