CURRITUCK — Currituck officials have given the green light for construction of a 100-megawatt solar energy facility in the Puddin Ridge Road area of Moyock.
At their Nov. 16 meeting, the Currituck Board of Commissioners gave unanimous consent to a use permit for applicant Oak Trail Solar LLC.
The Houston, Texas-based company wants to build a 100MW solar energy facility that will provide power to Dominion Energy for distribution to Virginia customers.
The solar farm will be built on 1,229 acres of existing farmland that run west of Puddin Ridge Road and south across Cooper Garrett Road. Another section runs east from Puddin Ridge to Eagle Creek Road. The land includes eight separate parcels owned by four different families.
The actual solar facility will be constructed on 878 acres of the property, while the remaining land will be used for setbacks, vegetative buffers and other zoning requirements.
The commissioners’ approval followed a near two-hour public hearing in which at least a dozen residents commented on the proposed solar facility. Representatives from Oak Trail Solar LLC also made presentations and answered the board’s questions.
Commissioner Paul Beaumont conducted much of the board’s conversation between the Oak Trail officials and the residents during the hearing.
Many of the residents who spoke said they live along Puddin Ridge Road or in vicinity of the proposed facility. Several told the board that they don’t support a solar farm going up near their neighborhood, but also said they’d rather see the land used for a solar farm instead of a new subdivision.
“We’re very uneasy about this upcoming project,” one Puddin Ridge resident said before stating his opposition. “We do feel that a solar facility would be better than having a large subdivision of houses built on the land surrounding us.”
Residents also agreed the solar facility would be a better neighbor than a new subdivision because the facility would generate taxes for the county, while not putting additional strain on the schools, highways and police and emergency services and garbage and waste removal.
Another man who spoke during the public hearing said he lives near the existing solar energy facility in Shawboro. He said based on his experience and dealing with the owners of that facility, he believes the Oak Trail solar farm would be a good neighbor.
Two other residents who spoke favorably of the proposed solar farm were landowners of the affected property.
Speaking neither for nor against the Oak Trail project was Josh Bass, president of the Currituck Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber’s position is it supports new innovative industry seeking to locate to Currituck, he said.
“The Chamber has consistently supported new industry and innovation in the county,” Bass said. Oak Trail’s interest in the county speaks well for Currituck, he said.
“When you have new businesses looking to locate into the county, oftentimes they’re looking for innovative communities,” Bass told the commissioners. “I think this demonstrates us as a cutting-edge, 21st century innovative community.”