Commissioners will hear details about changes to solar energy policies

Published 12:05 am Sunday, February 28, 2021

SALISBURY — The Rowan County Board of Commissioners on Monday will be presented with potential changes to the county’s current policies on solar energy systems.

Rowan County Planning Director Ed Muire will deliver the presentation to commissioners.

Muire has been leading the Planning Board as it has deliberated and discussed changes to the county’s solar energy system ordinances since commissioners put a pause on applications for new systems in October 2019. The moratorium came after citizens expressed their opposition to the construction of a 400-acre solar farm by China Grove Solar in western Rowan County. It halted all submittals of applications for the expansion of ground mounted solar energy systems greater than 6,000 square feet.

The moratorium has since been extended twice. It is currently scheduled to expire on April 5.

In addition to settling on new screening requirements and making strides on rules for decommissioning unused solar farms, the Planning Board determined a new classification system for solar energy systems.

All of the potential changes the Planning Board has approved will be considered for ultimate approval by the Board of Commissioners. If commissioners are in favor of the changes that are presented to them on Monday, they could set a public hearing for March 15 to garner community input. However, Commissioner Judy Klusman said that citizens are welcome to provide feedback at any time, including during Monday’s meeting.

“I am cautious and I really want to hear from the citizens to see if they are comfortable with what the planning board has come up with,” Klusman said.

Klusman, who has solar panels on her home, said that it is “very important” the county develops rules and regulations that are fair to residents.

If commissioners want to make additions or modifications to the proposed changes, it could mean a trip back to the drawing board for the Planning Board and another extension of the solar moratorium.

Also on the Monday agenda:

  • The Board of Commissioners is set to receive an update on whether staff was able to take enforcement action on a person who was feeding cut up deer carcasses to their dogs in plain view of neighbors. At a meeting last month, commissioners elected to table a vote on a proposed ordinance that would make it “unlawful to intentionally feed whole large animal carcasses to domesticated animals in public view.” Instead, commissioners directed Health Department staff to explore what it could do to remedy the situation.
  • Commissioners will consider a request from Chief of Emergency Services Allen Cress to implement a moratorium on the rental of the event center and parking lot at the West End Plaza. Owned by the county, the West End Plaza is currently being used as a site for the Health Department to distribute COVID-19 vaccines.
  • A quasi-judicial hearing will be held regarding a request from Tammy Baucom for a conditional use permit to accommodate a 960-square-foot residential storage facility at her property in Pleasant Cove near High Rock Lake. The proposed structure would be for storage of her boat and other personal property.
  • A public hearing will be held regarding a petition submitted by Sara Wells to name an unnamed road located at the 750 block of Coley Road. The name proposed is Pop Eller Drive.
  • Commissioners will consider a request from Carrie and Kabin Brown to construct a 1,600-square-foot building to operate a home décor retail sales business at 6931 W. NC 152. The Browns currently live on an adjacent parcel owned by Kabin’s mother, Cathy Brown Irvin, but plan on constructing a new home behind the business .
  • Commissioners will consider a request from Matt Erich to construct two 12,000-square-foot “personal storage” buildings at the 700 block of Performance Road. Erich indicated he plans to construct one building exclusively for storage and will construct a second building in the future.
  • A public hearing will be held regarding a request from Rowan Summit, LLC that would allow a lot to be subdivided from 2.75 acres into two parcels that would be 2.09 and 0.66 acres. The larger of the two would be the home of a Texas Roadhouse.
  • Commissioners will consider soliciting requests from consulting firms interested in performing a comprehensive cybersecurity review and assessment.