Mega solar facility seeks CUP in neighboring county

Published 6:16 pm Saturday, April 16, 2022

After more than a year of meetings, public hearings, lawsuits and working to convince neighboring Charlotte County officials and citizens that Randolph should be the home of one of the nation’s largest solar facilities, developers of Randolph Solar are moving forward seeking a conditional use permit.

Citizens will have the opportunity to express their concerns regarding the conditional use permit application for the 800-megawatt utility-scale solar facility proposed by SolUnesco.

Due to the expected turnout of a public hearing to be held by the Charlotte County Planning Commission on Tuesday, April 19, at 7 p.m., the hearing will be held at Randolph-Henry High School Auditorium, located at 755 David Bruce Ave., Charlotte Court House.

According to Assistant Charlotte County Administrator Monica Elder more than 400 letters were mailed out to property owners adjacent to the Randolph Solar project notifying them of the upcoming public hearing.

According to county documents, the proposed project area includes 21,071 acres and consists of multiple solar panel groupings in the Wylliesburg/Red Oak and Bacon/Saxe Districts.

An estimated 3,050 acres are within the project fence line, including approximately 1.66 million solar panels.

In the summer of 2020, the Charlotte County Board of Supervisors (BOS) voted 6 to 1 to approve a zoning amendment change that will allow for more density in the construction of utility-scale solar farms in a five-mile radius.

Before that change, the county’s zoning ordinance limited utility-scale solar density to 3% in any given five-mile radius.

SolUnesco’s expressed interest in constructing a utility-scale solar facility exceeded that previous density in the Randolph area.

Throughout 2021 the Charlotte County Planning Commission had been tasked with amending zoning ordinances for setbacks, buffers, and the list goes on.

In June 2021, the Planning Commission unanimously voted to amend the zoning ordinance for setbacks and require community meetings for large-scale solar facilities.

The newly amended section of the zoning ordinance called for a minimum setback of 125 feet from the centerline of any state-maintained road abutting the property; a minimum setback of 75 feet from all other property lines except those property lines that are inside the project’s boundaries and which do not abut property located outside the project area; and a minimum of 400 feet from all off-site residential structures unless otherwise prescribed by the Charlotte County Board of Supervisors as a condition of approval for a conditional use permit.

According to county officials, the Planning Commission will hold a special called meeting immediately following the April 19 hearing to consider the application.

Following the Planning Commission’s recommendation, the application will be sent to the

Charlotte County BOS for a public hearing and final consideration.