High Bridge Solar project gets decision from Farmville council

Published 3:33 pm Thursday, June 20, 2024

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The High Bridge Solar project can move forward and start construction in Farmville. The Farmville town council approved it through a 5-1 vote, with John Hardy voting no, during their Wednesday, June 12 meeting. 

“(We) tried to put it in a position in the town that would have the least impact,” said Alexandra Walling. She was speaking for the High Bridge project. “We’ve also run a number of environmental and land studies.” 

The 12-megawatt project, which went before the planning commission in April, sits on a 131-acre site at 521 Cedar Avenue, northeast of its intersection with East Second Street in Farmville. It’s right around the edge of town, with the northern property line along the Appomattox River. And in case you’re wondering, it’s more than half a mile away from South Main Street. Out of that 131 acres, 79 would be used for the actual solar operation. As for the land it’s sitting on, it’s zoned R-3, that’s high-density neighborhood. But there’s not exactly a metropolis surrounding it. In fact, if the project gets approved, pretty much the only neighbors those solar panels have would be trees, as the surrounding area is mostly forest.

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High Bridge is what’s known as a ‘project LLC’, owned by North Carolina Renewable Energy. That company is itself an affiliate of Inovateus Solar. And the company is very clear that they want to be good neighbors, saying in Wednesday’s session they tried to hold a public meeting in March, but nobody came.

Concerns about High Bridge Solar

They’ve also worked to address any potential concerns in their application, Walling said. Their plan looks at ways of mitigating any water or construction concerns. But therein lies the question, as mentioned earlier. The application says the company “designed the project and crafted this application to be consistent with the zoning ordinance.” 

However, there is no reference about solar in the Town of Farmville’s comprehensive plan. The same goes for the town’s zoning ordinance. Both of those can create some challenges as more solar projects pop up around the area. 

What about an impact to Farmville?

So how would this project affect Farmville? Based on company projections, it would employ an estimated 26 full-time equivalent workers during construction. Once construction is finished and the property goes through reassessment, real estate tax revenue should come in at an estimated $770 per year. That’s up from the property’s current $320 per year. 

The company expects six to eight months from the beginning of construction to the project’s completion.