By DAVID BORAKS
DENVER – A Chapel Hill company’s plan to build a 36-acre “solar farm” in eastern Lincoln County will be up for a public hearing Monday night at the Lincoln County Commission. Some neighbors of a nearby waterfront neighborhood don’t like the idea, and say they’ll be there to speak out against the plan.
Strata Solar LLC has applied for a conditional-use permit to build an array of 26,000 eight-foot tall solar panels on either side of Webbs Road, near Burton Lane in Denver.
The company says the solar farm will generate 5 megawatts of electricity, which it plans to sell to Duke Energy. That much power could supply about 500 to 800 homes, according to estimates from the Solar Energy Industries Association.
The site would be Strata’s second in Lincoln County and one of about 40 the company has developed in recent years to supply utilities with solar-generated power. A similar project in Kings Mountain, in Cleveland County, opened last December, and another is under construction in western Lincoln County.
The project comes as companies like Strata around the country expand development of solar and wind project, hoping to tap into growing demand for new energy sources.
Strata needs the rezoning because the site is currently zoned for residential single-family homes. While the county planning rules allow electrical generation in that type of zone, such projects require requires a public review and vote.
The proposal isn’t sitting well with residents of the nearby Sailview neighborhood, on Lake Norman. A flier circulating in the area calls the project “unsightly” and says home values in the area “would plummet” if the project wins approval. Opponents are urging residents to come out to Monday night’s public hearing.
Nadine Deason sells real estate around the lake. She says the company is proposing the massive collection of solar panels, surrounded by a 10-foot chain link fence topped by barbed wire.
“It would be a very unsightly feature accessing any of these waterfront homes,” Deason said. She said she knows of one home sale that recently fell through when prospective buyers learned about the solar farm plans.
Residents of the Sailview neighborhood met Sunday night to prepare for Monday’s meeting.
Strata says in its application that the project “will not produce any emissions or odors. It will not contain any hazardous materials. It will not generate significant noise or traffic. It will be buffered from roads and neighboring properties.
The company argues that it fits in with the county’s land-use plan for the area. “The passive nature of this use will fit in with this primarily residential area,” Strata said.
The meeting begins at 6:30pm Monday, Sept. 9, at the James W. Warren Citizens Center, 115 W. Main St., Lincolnton.
RELATED LINKS & DOCUMENTS
Aug. 20, 2013, Lincoln County planning department information packet on Strata Solar’s plans, at LincolnCounty.org
Full agenda for Monday’s meeting, on LincolnCounty.org”
Download a flier circulated among neighbors of the Strata project. (PDF)