After almost a year of meetings, consultations with knowledgeable solar professionals and visits to several local solar sites, the Planning Commission’s Solar Ordinance Review Committee put forth a set of recommendations that were incorporated into the solar ordinance approved by Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors last Tuesday, April 25.
We applaud the solar committee’s work and commitment to develop an ordinance that successfully balances the community’s desire to protect agricultural lands while allowing opportunity for new energy development.
The approved ordinance includes many of the protective design standards for utility-scale solar development that the Alliance has advocated for such as:
- Protecting clean water by avoiding developments near wetlands, springs or sinkholes, streams, floodplains or on steep slopes.
- Limiting soil disturbance to 50 acres per site and to only the area required for construction, operation and maintenance of the facility.
- Avoiding historic, cultural and scenic resources by not allowing a facility within 300 feet of an identified resource.
- Returning the sites to pre-construction condition by requiring restoration to prior conditions at the end of the project by retaining existing topsoil on site, soil restoration and revegetation.
- Supporting continued agriculture or wildlife habitat by including wildlife corridors as identified and requiring a minimum 50% project area coverage by pollinator friendly plants.
- Considering lasting infrastructure impacts by communicating with neighboring landowners via required community meetings.
If you’re in Shenandoah County, take a moment to thank members of the solar committee, planning commission and board of supervisors for putting in place a solar ordinance that protects the county’s water and soil and the agriculture and tourism industries they support while allowing opportunities for energy development.
Content Photo by Chris Anderson