Public hearing set for newest Buckingham County solar project

Published 6:54 am Tuesday, October 17, 2023

After discussion at last month’s Buckingham County Planning Commission meeting, Blue Rock Solar LLC will have a few more chances for the public to ask questions over the next month. 

Blue Rock Solar LLC applied to obtain a Special Use Permit to construct and operate a solar facility. The company plans to produce up to 100 MW utility-scale solar facility on approximately 1,127 acres in Buckingham County. The parcels are located near the intersection of State Route 683 Mohele Road and State Route 636 Stage Coach Road, Curdsville Magisterial District. 

During the October Buckingham County Board of Supervisors meeting, the board unanimously voted to hold a public hearing for the Blue Rock Solar project on Tuesday, Nov. 14, at the next meeting. During the public comment period, residents posed questions about the impact this would have on local residents.

Email newsletter signup

Dan Pemble of Cumberland spoke on behalf of his sister-in-law, Jenny Bobco, as her property borders the project in District 3. His main concern was buffer zones and property lines for future development if their grandchildren wanted to build on the property. 

“Is that all going to be fenced in too?” asked Pemble. “That kills the hunting and fishing all around there. Because our grandkids are big hunters so they’re not happy at all about this.”

Joshua McNeely, the representative from Blue Rock, addressed the buffer concerns as there is a 300-foot minimum in the proposal and is 828 feet from the nearest residence. This doesn’t include the property boundary, just the residence. 

Protecting Buckingham County property 

“It’s important to me and the other board members to protect your property,” said Supervisor Don Matthews to Bobco sitting in the audience. “We don’t want you to have to walk out your front door and have to look at solar panels. That’s why there’s going to be… almost 800 feet of buffer area between you and the solar panels. So, I think that’s almost three football fields. So, that’s a good distance.”

In light of residents’ concerns, Matthews encouraged McNeely to schedule a community meeting as other solar projects have done. These meetings will be opportunities for residents of the district to ask questions and see maps up close. McNeely answered that they already had one that had one resident come and were also at a booth at the Five County Fair where they reached about 250 people.

“We’d be happy to do that a second time,” said McNeely. “We also did door knocks, mostly west along Stage Coach Road.”

According to Mathews, the engineering process hasn’t started yet because the project hasn’t been approved. The next step after the approval, the engineers would come in and do the logistics and engineering process. 

For the wildlife concerns, the current design has around 22 wildlife corridors throughout the project. This will allow wildlife to go in and out of the space without getting caught in fencing. This will be available on a map for the community meeting for those interested in viewing. 

The community meetings will be scheduled for sometime before the public hearing on Tuesday, Nov. 14, and residents will be made aware of when these will take place.