James City supervisors to hear Norge solar farm request

tjefferson@vagazette.com

The county board of supervisors will have a full agenda to tackle at its next meeting.

Supervisors are scheduled to hear requests Tuesday to build a solar farm in Norge and to permit short-term rentals. The group will also receive input for its fiscal year 2019-20 budget.

Norge solar farm

SunPower, a California-based company, is proposing to build a 35-megawatt solar farm in Norge.

The project was pushed back to the planning commission in December after a series of deferrals and public meetings to address residents’ concerns about traffic impacts on Farmville Lane, which was the original point of entry to the site.

The commission recommended approval the new request — which moves the entry site to Old Church Road — 5-1 at its Dec. 6 meeting. SunPower also proposes to use an unidentified off-site lot to accommodate parking for workers during construction.

SunPower views Norge as a prime location for a solar farm.

“There are a couple of reasons that the site of the proposed Norge solar project is a good location for solar. It is close to a utility distribution line and populated areas, which enables efficient delivery of electricity to the community,” said SunPower Senior Manager, Peter Toomey, in an emailed statement.

Supervisors Ruth Larson and John McGlennon both attended public meetings in May to hear resident feedback.

“I know those are two things (changing the entry point and proposing an offsite parking lot) that the neighborhood asked for. I appreciate the developer going out and trying to find a compromise to those issues,” Larson said.

McGlennon said making sure residents feel comfortable with the project is important.

If the project is approved, Drew Gibbons, a SunPower representative, said there will be “intensive construction for four months” and nine months of construction total.

“I think we can start in spring 2018 or spring 2019 or potentially beyond,” Gibbons said.

The project will take nine months and 60 to 80 people will work on the site, according to SunPower.

After the project is complete, Gibbons said two or three people will monitor the site daily.

Short term rentals

The supervisors will hear a request to permit short-term residential rentals including Airbnb in residentially zoned areas.

“The zoning ordinance needs to be updated to keep up with internet trends of renting rooms like with Airbnb. The current ordinance was more geared toward bed and breakfasts and tourist homes and has never been updated for the current economy,” planning director Paul Holt said.

The updated ordinance makes the rental of rooms a specially permitted use in the R-3, R-4, R-5 and mixed-use districts, according to county documents.

Budget public input

Supervisors will also take feedback from the public for its fiscal year 2019-20 budget.

Comments and suggestions made at the pre-budget public hearing Tuesday will help guide county staff in preparing a budget proposal for the supervisor’s review in May, according to county documents.

Supervisors meeting

When: 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Where: 101 Mounts Bay Road

Jefferson can be reached by phone at 757-790-9313.

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