06/19/12 — Solar farm being planned for Mount Olive area

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Solar farm being planned for Mount Olive area

By Steve Herring
Published in News on June 19, 2012 1:46 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- A solar farm that would produce electricity to be sold to Progress Energy is in the planning stages for an approximately nine-acre site just off of Harrell's Hill Road just west of town.

The site, located just north of N.C. 55 and owned by J.L. Jones, is outside the town limits, but inside its one-mile extraterritorial jurisdiction, said Danny Keel, town code enforcement officer. The zoning for the farmland area currently does not include provisions for solar farms.

As such, the Planning Board has drafted a text amendment to the town's zoning ordinance that would allow solar farms. It will be presented to the town board for consideration at its July 9 meeting.

Jones said he was negotiating with a company interested in the land for such an operation, but was not yet able to comment further.

Keel said that a representative of the company that would build the solar farm had come from Charleston, S.C., to attend the Planning Board's last meeting to talk about how such a project would operate.

"I don't really have a lot of information on this because most of the dealing has been between the guy from South Carolina and Mr. Jones," Keel said. "Pretty much all he has done with me is come to the Planning Board meeting and give them some information and give us some pointers as to what we should do, what we should include (in the amendment)."

No permits have been issued, Keel said.

"All I have done is that they have contacted me as to what our requirements are," he said. "We didn't have anything in the ordinance to address solar farms. That is why we are trying to get this done so that it can happen."

Keel said he did not have any information concerning a timetable for the project.

"We have not received any plans or anything," he said. "It is basically ordinance preparation now. We don't like to have anything to happen if we don't have it in the ordinance."