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City Council to hold hearing on solar panels at community college

By David Purtell

david.purtell@salisburypost.com

Salisbury City Council will hold a public hearing Tuesday on a rezoning request regarding a proposed solar array at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College.

The college wants to build a one-megawatt solar array, which is being funded by a private donor, on land along Old Concord Road. The solar array would be used to provide approximately 35-40 percent of the college’s energy.  The land for the solar panels is about 4.5 acres in size and is just north of and on the other side of Old Concord Road from a neighborhood on Stone Ridge Drive.
The college is requesting the land, which it owns, be rezoned from residential to institutional campus. In all, three parcels totaling 9.6 acres, fall under the request.
Based on the design plans for the site, the solar array should not be clearly visible from Old Concord Road — it would be set back 250 feet from the street and a buffer zone, trees and shrubs, would provide “visual separation,” as city planners refer to it. The panels will face south, be 10-feet tall, and are expected to last 30 to 35 years.
When the request was before the city’s Planning Board,  it faced resistance from people who live near the proposed site of the solar array. Some people simply said they didn’t want to be able to see the panels from their homes. The Board eventually voted to recommend approval of the request, but it did set a condition that the site of the solar array have more buffering on its south side — adjacent to a residential lot — than originally planned.
Council meets Tuesday at 4 p.m. at City Hall.
During the meeting, council will also hear a presentation on the city’s proposed budget for 2015-2016 and consider setting a public hearing on the budget for June 2.
In other business Tuesday, council will:
• Hold a public hearing on updates to the city’s Historic District Design Guidelines, which cover residential and non-residential buildings in the city’s five historical districts.
• Review an amendment to a city ordinance that would restrict trucks from using Newsome Road between Bringle Ferry Road and Stokes Ferry Road. The amendment comes after residents expressed concerns about trucks using the road as a cut through.

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