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Solar company plans citizen meeting

As Charlotte County officials decide on buffers and setbacks for a Northern Virginia solar company in the Randolph area, another solar company is considering making Charlotte County home.

NOVI Energy has submitted its application to the county to develop a 218MW solar project located in the area of Welsch Tract Road and Bethlehem Road near Charlotte Court House.

Based on the developer’s application, the project known as Tall Pines Solar will be located on approximately 1,775 acres of land owned by four different landowners.

NOVI Energy is based in Novi, Michigan, and is the developer of the recently approved 150 MW Courthouse Solar project.

According to Assistant County Administrator Monica Elder, county staff received the application on June 7. The project is currently under review.

As part of their application process, NOVI Energy will hold a public informational meeting near the planned site at the end of Fox Hollow Lane in Charlotte Court House on Wednesday, Sept. 15, from 5-7 p.m.

NOVI Energy, in its application documents, states that it plans to limit the disturbance of wetlands by reusing existing roads and culverts in wetlands areas.

“No new road crossings will be constructed in wetland areas, and fence crossings in streams and wetland areas will be limited to the extent practical,” NOVI President Anand Gangadharan said.

During the project application, the developer noted that the project has a 25-foot continuous vegetative buffer around its entire perimeter.

The buffer will consist of undisturbed forested areas that currently exist, native pollinator plants, evergreen trees, and shrubs sized and selected in consultation with Charlotte County and Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.

According to NOVI, the vegetative buffers will have no planned tree cutting or clearing of surface-level vegetation, nor will roads, fences, or other project improvements be made in these areas.

The project is expected to have six gated entrances to public roads in the following locations:

• Two entrances at Welsh Tract Road near the middle of the site.

• One entrance on Tall Pines Lane near the south side of the site.

• One entrance on Fox Hollow Lane near the middle of the site.

• Two entrances along Bethlehem Road on the north side of the site.

During the beginning of its application process according to Elder, after reviewing the Tall Pines application, a letter was sent to NOVI Energy in early July indicating a list that included several items specifically required in the zoning regulations but was omitted from the application.

“Most of the items requested are needed by staff to clarify information provided in the application so that we can fully review the application and will be better able to respond to inquiries from citizens, planning commissioners, and the board of supervisors as we move through the review process.” Elder said.

To arrive at the proposed site citizens can travel east on David Bruce Highway (VA 40E/VA-47N) for 0.7 miles. Continue straight onto VA-709, Union Cemetery Road for 0.7 miles. Turn left onto Route 658, Welsh Tract Road. After 2.5 miles turn right onto Fox Hollow Lane.