The Oconee County Planning Commission voted overwhelmingly last (Monday) night against a request to rezone 238 acres on McNutt Creek Road and Dials Mill Road in the far northwest of the county for a solar energy farm.
The vote was before a full room of citizens, most of whom were opposed to the proposed 38 megawatt solar energy farm on two separate parcels of land separated by Dials Mill Road.
The negative recommendation will be before to the Board of Commissioners on Dec. 6, along with a positive recommendation to allow Briarwood Baptist Church at Robinhood Road and Hog Mountain Road to build a new 12,000-square-foot worship Center.
The Planning Commission also sent to the Bogart City Council a positive recommendation for rezone of 28 acres on Atlanta Highway inside the city to create a residential subdivision.
The Planning Commission postponed action on a request for a rezone of land for another residential subdivision on undeveloped land to the west of Daniells Plantation subdivision.
Solar Farm Request
The Mr. Chick Farms Limited Partnership of Gainesville and Eleanor Prather of Good Hope, in Walton County, are asking the county to grant a special use to allow for development of the solar farm on two parcels at the intersection of McNutt Creek Road and Dials Mill Road.
|Proposed Solar Energy Farm In Blue|
(Click To Enlarge)
The larger parcel, owned by Mr. Chick Farms, is 199 acres and runs from Dials Mill Road to Barber Creek.
The parcel owned by Prather is just less than 34 acres and is at the southeast corner of the intersection of McNutt Creek Road with Dials Mill Road.
Rural Green Power LLC, with an Athens postal address, is to be the developer of the $50 million project, according to the rezone narrative.
The total build-out of the project should be completed between June and August of 2018, according to the narrative.
The properties currently are pasture land with trees along tributaries to Barber Creek.
The concept plans submitted with the rezone request show much of the acreage covered with solar panels.
The outsides of the properties would be buffered with vegetation, according to the plans submitted.
The Oconee County Planning staff noted in its review that the “request is inconsistent with the development goals and strategies of the Suburban Living character area” of which it is a part.
“If properly screened and maintained,” the report said, “the proposed solar energy farm may not negatively impact any established residential development nor prevent residential development of adjoining properties in compliance with the development strategies of the Suburban Living character area.”
The staff recommended approval of the special use request.
Nine citizens spoke in opposition to the solar farm at the hearing last night. A 10th gave a mixed recommendation.
When asked by Planning Commission Chairman Dan Arnold, at least three persons stood to express approval.
Several of the opponents came from Belfair subdivision, which abuts the Prather Property.
Abe Abouhamdan, who heads the county’s Land Use And Transportation Planning Committee, spoke against the project on behalf of the developers of Wildflower Meadows, a nearby subdivision under construction.
The Planning Commission voted 5 to 0 in favor of the negative recommendation regarding the project. Two members abstained.
I did not attend the Planning Commission meeting.
Sarah Bell did attend and video recorded the session.
The complete video is below.
The audience spilled out of the Commission Chamber into the hallway as the hearing took place.