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Commissioners will consider extending solar farm moratorium

SALISBURY — The Rowan County Board of Commissioners today will consider scheduling a public hearing to extend its solar farm moratorium.

The current moratorium on large-scale solar operations is set to expire on Oct. 6.

The commissioners originally placed a pause on gound-mounted solar farms in October after citizens expressed their opposition to the construction of a 400-acre solar farm by China Grove Solar in western Rowan County.

The display of resistance to the large solar operation prompted county leaders to consider the process through which they would approve solar farms in the future. In order to examine that process, county leaders issued a moratorium on accepting new applications for creating or expanding ground mounted solar energy systems in excess of 6,000 square feet.

The moratorium was initially scheduled to terminate on April 7, but commissioners extended the moratorium for six more months. The extension was designed to allow county staff and the planning board more time. However, restrictions put in place due to COVID-19 health concerns have prevented staff members from making real progress toward that goal, according to Tuesday’s agenda document

As a result, Planning Department Director Ed Muire is requesting the Rowan County Board of Commissioners hold a public hearing on Oct. 5 to consider extending the moratorium further.

“This has turned out to be incredibly complex. The folks that are working on writing the rules, it’s difficult to get them together because of COVID,” said Rowan County Commissioner Judy Klusman.

The board of commissioners has been meeting over Zoom video calls for several months. It has not been determined yet whether the public hearing would be conducted virtually or in person. The board of commissioners has allowed public hearings at its Zoom meetings in the past.

Other business will include:

  • County Manager Aaron Church will deliver a presentation on consolidated human services agencies. No further information was provided with Tuesday’s agenda.
  • The Rowan County Board of Commissioners will consider a resolution from Chairman Gregg Edds to replace the slogans on the Welcome to Rowan County road signs from “Home of the 2015 Girls Little League Softball World Series Champion” to “Home of the two-time Little League Girls Softball World Series Champions.” The proposed updated slogan includes the Rowan County girls softball team that won the Little League Girls Softball World Series in August 2019.
  • There will be a public hearing during the meeting in which Eddie Moore of the McAdams Company will request that a 1.3-acre plot of land on the southwest corner of Long Ferry Road and Front Creek Road be zoned Commercial, Business, Industrial.
  • The commissioners will consider approval of an engineering contract for the Northeast Rowan County Water System. The contract, between Rowan County and engineering firm Hazen and Sawyer, will cost $225,000 and will include the designing and construction of a chemical booster station, water system corrosion testing and compliance support.
  • The commissioners will consider a request from the finance department for the approval of a contract between Rowan-Salisbury Schools and the Health Department for school nursing services.
  • District Attorney Brandy Cook will request the approval of contracts for two assistant district attorneys.
  • Commissioners will consider a memorandum of understanding with the nonprofit group Shelter Guardians for the construction of a new $2.1 million dog wing at the animal shelter that will be donated to the county after it is completed.
  • The Post Overdose Response Team, known as PORT, will deliver a presentation on their work to help reduce opioid overdoses in the Rowan County community.
  • The board of commissioners will consider approval of various board appointments, including the Adult Care Home Advisory Committee, Health Department, Local Emergency Planning Committee, Nursing Home Advisory Committee, Rowan County Zoning Board of Adjustment and Tourism Development Authority.

The Rowan County Board of Commissioners will meet on Zoom at 3 p.m. on Tuesday. The meeting can be joined online at https://bit.ly/rowanboc0908 or by dialing 602-753-0140, 720-928-9299 or 213-338-8477. The password is 090820.

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