Solar Facility request fizzles out at Council

Published 10:00 am Wednesday, January 24, 2024

A conditional use permit for a new solar energy facility failed to meet the mark. During Suffolk City Council’s Wednesday, Jan. 17 meeting, an ordinance was observed to consider establishing a solar facility on property located on Hosier Rd within the Agricultural District. Submitted by Onur Ozdemir of Switchgrass Solar LLC, the 49-megawatt solar facility was planned to be eight parcels on the east of Hosier Rd and 0.3 miles south of Webb St. 

During the meeting, Director of Planning and Community Development Kevin Wyne detailed that the facility’s requested use in the proposed location did not align with criteria 6 and 8 of Section 31-306 of the United Development Ordinance (UDO): 6, requiring a finding that “establishment of the proposed use shall not impede the orderly development and improvement of surrounding property for uses permitted within the zoning district” and 8, requiring a finding that “the public interest and welfare supporting the proposed conditional use shall be sufficient to outweigh the individual interest which is adversely affected by the establishment of the proposed use.”

“It does not fully address all of the eight criteria outlined for consideration within the UDO as it relates to Conditional Use Permits, and as those criteria are not met and it doesn’t align with the Comprehensive Plan, staff is recommending denial of this use permit,” Wyne said.

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Wyne also said Suffolk Planning Commission’s recommendation for denial during their Tuesday, Dec. 19 meeting. During the public hearing, Troutman Pepper Law Firm Land Use Attorney Rob Beaman thanked Wyne and Planning staff for their work and feedback on the application.

“In light of Council’s election not to approve the deferral request that we made at the beginning of the hearing, the applicant would like to respectfully request a withdrawal of this application at this time,” Beaman said.

Following Suffolk City Attorney William E. Hutchings, Jr. noted that a “withdrawal ends the matter,” Mayor Michael D. Duman accepted the withdrawal with the public hearing on the solar facility concluding. Council Member Shelley Butler-Barlow was absent from the meeting and was excused.