02/17/14 — Solar farm hearing on board agenda

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Solar farm hearing on board agenda

By Steve Herring
Published in News on February 17, 2014 1:46 PM

Wayne County commissioners will hold a public hearing Tuesday at 9:15 a.m. on a proposed zoning ordinance regulating solar energy facilities in the county.

The board session will begin with an 8 a.m. agenda briefing, followed by the formal meeting at 9 a.m. The meetings will be held in the commissioners' meeting room on the fourth floor of the county courthouse annex.

Commissioners scheduled the public hearing during their Feb. 4 session even though some board members called the initial rules too restrictive and would infringe on the rights of property owners.

However, they agreed they needed to hear from the public before having the Wayne County Planning Board take another look at the proposal.

Solar facilities are not currently addressed in the county's zoning ordinances and the few areas across the county that are zoned do not allow them.

Only building and stormwater permits are required for construction of solar facilities in non-zoned areas of the county.

The Planning Board has recommended a stand-alone ordinance regulating solar facilities in unzoned areas that are outside municipal jurisdiction.

The proposal also includes amendments to county ordinances that would allow the facilities as permitted uses in heavy, light and airport industry zones.

They would require special use permits in Residential-Agriculture 30 and 20 zones, and Airport zones.

The engineering staff at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base was involved in discussions about the proposal.

The base staff suggested that the facilities be a special use in all areas covered by the Airspace Control Surface under the Air Installation Compatible Use Zone.

Base officials also suggested wording to prohibit interference with aircraft operations by direct or indirect reflections that would interfere with a pilot's vision and/or traffic control operations or that produce electrical emissions that would interfere with aircraft communication systems or navigation equipment.

As proposed, the ordinance would require a 300-foot setback from homes, schools and churches, a 100-foot setback from a public road and a 50-foot setback from a side property line.

Landscaping along public roads and fencing around the site would be required as well.

Site plans would be approved by commissioners.

A copy of the proposal is posted on the county's website, www.waynegov.com.

In other business Tuesday, the board's consent agenda includes scheduling a public hearing that would allow the merger of several fire departments to proceed.

The board will be asked to set the hearing for 9:15 a.m. on Tuesday, April 1 in the commissioners' meeting room.

The mergers of the Eureka and Faro fire departments and of New Hope and East Wayne have been discussed for several years. The issue came to a head because by the findings of last year's survey of county fire departments by the Volunteer Fire Insurance Services.

The public hearing has to be held prior to consolidation to consider new response districts for tax purposes

All four stations will remain open.

Commissioners are expected to announce what projects will share in the county's $576,923.08 Eastern Region Trust Fund loan.

The board also is expected to approve a resolution to file an application to borrow the money.

The state funded the trust fund when the Eastern Region was first formed. The stipulation is that the money can be used by member counties for economic development projects only.

Commissioners heard funding requests from Goldsboro, Mount Olive, Pikeville and Fremont officials during a Feb. 4 work session.

March 1 is the deadline for the county to file an application to borrow the money. If the money is not obligated by June 30, it will be turned back over to the state.

Commissioners will once again talk about school construction.

Officials with Davenport & Co., the county's financial consultants, will provide revamped figures on new middle schools in the Grantham and Spring Creek communities.

The officials were at the board's Feb. 4 session when they talked about spending $40 million to build the schools. Commissioners told them to recalculate the data based on $30 million.

County Planner Connie Price, Goldsboro City Manager Scott Stevens and city Parks and Recreation Director Scott Bernard will present the Reedy Branch Greenway grant agreement.

Commissioners will be asked to approve a preliminary plat for the 86-lot Fieldstone Village subdivision. The 55.2-acre project is located on the northwest side of the intersection of Stoney Creek Church Road and Combs Road. Sasser Home Builders is owner/developer. The Planning Board has recommended approval.

The state has requested that the county transfer county-owned FEMA land on the north side of River Road to the Cliffs of the Neuse State Park. The Planning Board has recommended approval.

Public comments will be taken at 10 a.m. People will have four minutes to speak on their topic of choice.