Monday, April 15, 2024

Proposal for Norge solar farm deferred, new access point considered

The dirt road between two homes on Oslo Court was originally proposed to be used by SunPower to access the solar farm. (Andrew Harris/WYDaily)

A proposal for the construction of a solar farm in Norge has once again been deferred by the James City County Board of Supervisors after a request by the applicant.

SunPower Devco LLC, a California-based solar energy company, has proposed constructing a solar farm on a 223-acre site a half-mile off Richmond Road in James City County.

SunPower requested the board defer their application at Tuesday’s meeting in order to explore alternate paths to access the property. The board voted 4-0 to remand the proposal back to the county’s Planning Commission for a review of the new terms.

“The applicant for this special use permit notified staff of their desire to further investigate the feasibility of using a different entrance to this project,” said county Planning Director Paul Holt. 

SunPower had requested a special use permit from the county to lease the property from locally-owned Whisper Ridge, LLC for 35 years. The site is currently farmland, and SunPower requested permission to access the site through the private residential neighborhood of Norvalia.

The neighborhood streets are approximately 10 feet wide, and SunPower will need to move large trucks to the construction site daily. SunPower had indicated they would use Farmville Lane and Oslo Court to access a dirt road that runs between two private residences to reach the solar farm.

Holt said SunPower will now seek access to the site through Old Church Road.

Residents of the Norvalia neighborhood have expressed concern and frustration with the proposal. Their opposition to the proposal came to a head in May, when roughly 50 residents organized a meeting to raise awareness and implore the Board of Supervisors to deny the application.

Their concerns were centered on their property values, glare from the solar panels, views from their properties and SunPower’s use of private streets for access to the proposed facility.

SunPower had previously proposed accessing the property through Farmville Lane and Oslo Court. However, they requested a deferment Tuesday in order to explore the possibility of sending construction vehicles through Old Church Lane, at the top of the photo. (Courtesy James City County)

County and Old Church Road resident Sean Lawler, who has previously spoken in favor of the proposal, said he owns property adjacent to the proposed construction site and told WYDaily he is in discussions with the applicant to allow access through his property via Old Church Road.

“I’m actually in discussion with the developer go in front of my house instead,” Lawler said.

SunPower previously requested and received a deferment from the board in August in order to “resolve issues related to construction access for the project.”

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