Thursday, January 20, 2022

Year-long extension granted for construction of Norge solar farm

The James City County Planning Commission approved a special use permit granting a construction extension for the proposed solar farm project in Norge. (WYDaily/ Courtesy of James City Planning Commission)
The James City County Planning Commission approved a special use permit granting a construction extension for the proposed solar farm project in Norge. (WYDaily/ Courtesy of James City Planning Commission)

The proposed solar farm in James City County just got a construction extension.

The James City County Planning Commission on Wednesday approved a special use permit to extend the construction timeline by one year.

The commission’s vote was unanimous except for Rob Rose, representative of the Roberts district, who was not in attendance.

The previously approved special use permit was going to expire on Jan. 9, 2022.

RELATED STORY: Norge solar farm: Still no site plans, Dominion says it won’t be involved with project

Robin Lucey, development manager of Dominion Energy, had applied for the permit.

“I just want to thank everyone for inviting us to the meeting tonight and also we just look forward to seeing this project become operational in York County,” she said.

The special use permit amendment applies to properties 320, 339, 341, and 345 Farmville Lane and 0.21 acres between 140 and 143 Oslo Court, according to the staff report.

“No further changes to the approved Special Use Permit (SUP) are proposed,” according to the report.

Tim O’Conner, chairman of the commission, asked if Lucey wanted to have more time on the project so the board did not have to keep approving more “legislature” extensions.

“Are we certain a year is enough time?” he asked.

Lucey responded with a timeline of events which were previously outlined in the staffing report.

“According to the applicant, in September 2020, Dominion Energy entered into a contract for the construction of the Norge Solar project,” according to the Norge Solar Farm SUP Amendment in the Planning Commission documents. “Engineering and permitting activities will start with applications for various permits required for the construction of the project expected to be submitted in Quarters 3-4 (Q3-Q4) of 2021.”

“Permits are expected in early 2022, with construction commencing thereafter beginning with site preparation.”

The construction materials for the “solar array” should arrive in the spring and summer months later in the year.

The project is expected to be “substantially complete and operational” in the third quarter of the same year, according to the documents sent to the Planning Commission.

Only one person submitted something for the public comment section regarding to special use permit application.

The man, who was not named, had sent an email to the Planning Commission about the buffering near the project site and the clearing of trees.

“As I recall for agricultural lands, you can disturb the RPA and what the gentleman was talking about was the elimination of trees, and the fact that okay you’re going to replant them but it takes a long time,” said Planning Commissioner Frank Polster, who represents the Jamestown District.

He noted there is a ravine with a 30-foot drop near the property, adding he thought the man who submitted the email wanted to make sure someone would “mark the trees” so they would not get chopped down.

Paul Holt, director of community development and planning director for the county, said while there is an area on the north side of the site with “significant erosion happening,” there is an active plan to mitigate storm runoff.

“As part of the site plan review process, county staff will ensure that the site plan subsequently matches up to the area,” he said, referring to the master plan. “The proposal would need to match the limits of clearing as shown by the master plan.”

He added the man who emailed his concerns wanted to make sure the trees can “contribute” to the outline of the “required buffers.”

Polster said he was “concerned” the county would lose the $1.2 million to stabilize developments near Richmond Road.

Drew Gibbons of SunPower Devco LLC, had applied for a special use permit on behalf of Whisper Ridge LLC to build a “solar electrical generational facility for the “Norge Solar Master Plan.”

In January 2018, the James City County Board of Supervisors approved the special use permit for SunPower to build a 20-megawatt solar farm behind the Norvalia subdivision.

The new deadline of the solar farm construction is Jan. 9, 2023.

The tentative public hearing date for the special use permit is Nov. 17 at the Board of Supervisors 5 p.m. meeting.

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Julia Marsiglianohttp://wydaily.com
Julia Marsigliano is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She covers everything on the Peninsula from local government and law enforcement agencies to family-run businesses and weather updates. Before WYDaily, she covered Hampton and Newport News for WYDaily’s sister publication, HNNDaily before both publications merged in December 2018. Julia was born in Tokyo, Japan and moved to Long Island, New York in 2001. A true New Yorker, she loves pizza, bagels and good Chinese food. Send comments, tips and other tidbits to julia@localvoicemedia.com. You can follow her on Twitter at @jmarsigliano

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