Halifax County Board of Supervisors agreed Monday evening to amend a conditional use permit for Piney Creek Solar, LLC to allow for more wetlands and added an additional site condition to include a voluntary waiver and payment agreement.
This unanimous decision followed a public hearing in which two people spoke, project developer Adam Ventre and Neal Smiley, co-owner of a portion of the project’s land.
Piney Creek Solar, LLC, owned by Hexagon Energy, plans to install an 80-megawatt photovoltaic solar facility on Rodgers Chapel Road and Mill Road, on land owned by Black Walnut Land and Timber Company, LLC.
With this new amendment, Ventre explained they’re “shifting about 50 acres,” for wetlands to meet state requirements. He stressed they’re not changing the size of the project.
The solar facility will total 502 acres on the 778.51-acred site area.
The approved application was designed using data available from the National Wetlands Inventory, but since then, wetland, wildlife and culture and historical field studies were conducted, Ventre explained.
In adding the wetlands, Ventra said that doubles the setbacks for the project.
He ensured supervisors that this is a “low impact project” that will be quiet and low profile.
Smiley told supervisors he thinks the solar facility will be “good neighbors,” and he is “excited to join them” on this project for useable clean energy.
Following the public hearing, Detrick Easley, planning and zoning administrator, informed the board that another site condition was recommended to include the Voluntary Waiver and Payment Agreement previously approved in March.
The agreement states the solar facility will pay an additional payment to the county over 35 years totaling $3,701,000. This is in addition to its yearly $105,743 in estimated property taxes.
Along with the amendment to the solar facility’s CUP, supervisors also agreed to vacate a plat and associated 50’ unnamed right of way for the project.
In other action Monday evening, the board approved a conditional use permit for Life Services & Transportation, Inc. to provide transitional housing to veterans and their families as well as elderly individuals with disabilities. The permit includes 12 site conditions. This decision came after a public hearing in which no one spoke.
Following the public hearing, the applicants Tammy Ford and Tyronza Coleman of Life Services Transportation addressed the board.
Life Services & Transportation, LLC is a nonprofit, and they plan to use two buildings at 2075 Mountain Road.
The building fronting Mountain Road will be used for transitional housing and the adjacent buildings will used as the Adult Medical Foster Home for veterans and elderly individuals with disabilities.
Ford told the board that veterans would be assisted first followed by low-come families, those homeless and elderly. They plan to provide transportation, job training, educational services and financial management training as part of a 24-month program.
Answering a question from chairman and ED-3 supervisor Hubert Pannell, Ford said they plan to house at least five individuals in the building for transitional housing. They plan to house a maximum of 40 people.
She also said they plan to hire 10 employees.
Supervisors also approved a conditional use permit for Merlin Brougher to operate Winn’s Creek General Store at 2023 Bethel Road in Halifax.
He plans to sell baked goods, Homestead Creamy milk, ice cream, eggs and more at his business. Brougher plans to operate the business Wednesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturdays.
Supervisors also completed the following Monday evening:
• Amended the 2020-21 budget to reflect CARES funding;
• Accepted a bid from Hite Carpet & Tile Inc. to install carpet in the offices of the Department of Social Services for $46,940;
• Accepted a bid from R. A. Whitlow Painting to paint offices of the Department of Social Services for $24,900;
• Rejected a bid from Colonial Tuck Sales to provide a solid waste truck and agreed to re-advertise for a new round of bidding;
• Heard citizen comments from Mitzi Thompson with the Halifax County Militia who said the militia could provide free resources to the county using their skill sets and certifications such as search and rescue, K9 handler, EMT certifications, tactical medic, public safety diver, wilderness first aid, CPR, FEMA and others. She said the milita is qualified to respond to natural disasters and in times of emergency, such as when a person goes missing.
• Heard citizen comments from Thomas Majors who said he was against having a local militia and suggested its members join the Halifax County Sheriff’s Department or one of the local fire departments. He said if the county approved the Halifax County Militia, African Americans would form their own group.
• Heard citizen comments from Barbara Coleman-Brown, president of the local chapter of the NAACP, who told supervisors, “its beyond me how you could even consider a resolution.” She asked the board to consider the U.S. and Virginia Constitutions, the safety ramifications of all Halifax County citizens and how having a militia could further complicate the relationships between local police and the public. She also told supervisors they took the “safe” route by choosing to put the confederate statue referendum on the November Election ballot.
• Heard citizen comments from Linda Waller who said the Halifax County Militia does not have a color, and that all races were welcome to work together for the safety of all.