Board of Commissioners OKs rezoning for solar farm in Andersonville

Published 5:48 pm Tuesday, September 25, 2018

By Ken Gustafson

AMERICUS – The Sumter County Board of Commissioners met Tuesday for its monthly meeting. Among other items, they approved a request from Inman Solar to rezone 129 acres for the construction of a solar farm to be located on Freeman Road in Andersonville.
According to information on its website:, Inman Solar, based in Atlanta, develops, designs and installs commercial and utility-scale solar photovoltaic systems.
Jett Hattaway, on behalf of Inman Solar, addressed the board. “We’re just here to request the rezoning of 129 acres from rural residential to heavy industrial with the conditional use of 12 of those acres for the construction of a 1.8 megawatt solar farm,” Hattaway said.
County Code Enforcement Officer Michael Sudduth said that a vegetative buffer will be maintained to prevent viewing from the roadway or residential houses to the satisfaction of the Code Enforcement Office. Commissioner Mark Waddell made a motion to approve the request and Commissioner George Torbert seconded it. The approval passed unanimously.
Barbara Grogan, executive director, Sumter County Development Authority, gave an update on the plans to replace both a 40-ton HVAC unit and a 7.5-ton HVAC unit with four 10-ton HVAC units, along with a new 7.5-ton HVAC unit. These new HVAC units are to be installed at TCI Powder Coatings, located at 300 Martin Marietta Drive, Americus. Grogan told the board that having four, 10-ton split heat pump units, along with a new a 7.5-ton split heat pump unit, would not only be cheaper than replacing a 40-ton unit with another one, but that the long-term maintenance can be better with the four 10-ton units. Grogan’s original plan was to replace the 40-ton HVAC unit with a newer one. Grogan said she was pleased that she has gotten a large response from several companies interested in doing the work. “I have been contacted by about 12 companies who are interested,” Grogan said. “The hope and anticipation is that the bids will be due Monday, Oct. 8. We are going to look at them that evening and the next morning.” Grogan said that if the bids can be reviewed thoroughly, she will make a decision on which company wins the bid. She will then make a recommendation to the board to approve that company at the board’s work session on Oct. 9.
Grogan also had a discussion with the board concerning the Georgia Trend ad. Georgia Trend Magazine is a state-wide economic development magazine. According to Grogan, Sumter County will be featured in the November issue. “We’re trying to do a big, community, two-page ad,” Grogan said. She said that $10,000 has been contributed toward the purchase of the ad and that $6,000 more is needed. According to Grogan, this year, as in the past, several groups are partnering to buy one large ad. Grogan asked the board if they wanted to contribute $500 toward the ad. A motion to approve the contribution of $500 was made by Commissioner Clay Jones and seconded by Commissioner Thomas Jordan. The approval passed unanimously.
Near the end of the meeting, a group of residents from Plains showed up to register a complaint about the conditions of a stretch of Smallpiece Road. The top part of the road is paved, while the rest of the road is not. The residents who showed up at the meeting live along a portion of the unpaved part of the road. Lawrence Marshall and Dana White spoke on behalf of the group. They told the board that the dirt portion of the road is filled with rocks and potholes and is in serious need of repair. “The bus driver doesn’t even want to drive that part of the road to pick up our kids,” White said. Marshall said the road has not been maintained. Board Chairman Randy Howard thanked the group for coming and told them that the board will look into the situation.
County Attorney Kimberly Reid requested that the board go into closed session to discuss litigation. Commissioner Waddell made a motion to go into closed session to discuss litigation and personnel matters. Commissioner Torbert seconded the motion. They voted unanimously to go into closed session.