BRUNSWICK COUNTY — The county’s Planning Board is holding a public hearing on proposed revisions to solar farm requirements in the county’s Unified Development Ordinance, or UDO, Port City Daily reported.
The public hearing is at 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 9, in the Commissioners Chambers of the David R. Sandifer Administration Building at 30 Government Center Drive at the Brunswick County Government Center.
The UDO serves several purposes according to the document, including promoting health, safety and general welfare of county residents. The UDO, which was revised and readopted in 2015, currently has few requirements for solar farms; the proposed changes would increase regulations. According to the UDO, a solar farm is defined as, “An area of land designated … for the sole purpose of deploying photovoltaic power and generating electric energy.”
In addition to public input, the county has reached out to the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center and the N.C. Sustainable Energy Association regarding the revisions.
As the plan stands now, the there are no size maximums for solar farms in Brunswick County, but if approved, the new regulation for restrict farm sizes to 35 acres maximum.
The setback requirements would also be expanded from the current one sentence, “Solar farms shall meet the minimum zoning setbacks for the zoning district in which located.”
The revised setbacks would be more specific.
Screening and buffering requirements would also be spelled out in the revised UDO if approved and maintenance and security plans were not included in the original UDO but now would be required for all solar farm facilities, according to preliminary documents.
One of the biggest proposed changes to the UDO would be the requirement of an extensive decommissioning plan which would be updated every three years, or upon the transfer of property. The new requirements would force the decommissioning of a solar farm if no electricity is produced for a continuous 12-month period.