The Board of Commissioners Hears a Request to Rezone Land for Solar
Published 2:48 pm Wednesday, November 15, 2023
The Board of Commissioners met on November 14th. Planning & Zoning Administrator Heather Tyler presented the zoning board’s recommendation to deny the request to build the solar farm. SA solar presented a request to the board of commissioners with two parcels withdrawn from the proposed solar site in response to citizen’s concerns.
Brandon Wells, an attorney representing SA Solar, specified which parcels had been withdrawn.
“We’ve redrawn the rezoning and conditional use that’s applicable to the residential parcel. That’s about 240 acres that was just to the West of the two lakes, the Powell Dairy Farm Lake, and the other lake there.”
Hannah Davis, a senior staff ecologist for Terracon, presented information about the environmental report.
“We conducted all of the necessary environmental surveys of the site, which included a wetland delineation, as well as a threatened and endangered species habitat assessment.”
A projector displayed a map of the site.
“On the left, you can see areas that could provide suitable habitat for State and Federally protected species. We submitted these findings to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, these areas generally overlap with the large wetland system that we found on the site. The agencies approved our report, and they also stated that State and Federally endangered species are not likely to occur on the site.”
Brock Greene addressed the Board in opposition to the project.
“I am a Greg Odom employee,” Geene stated, referring to the corn farmer who currently leases the land. “And I did farm this land for the last two years. Every time we harvest a crop out of there, it generates over three million dollars to this community, and you are looking at a half a million from one company a year.”
The pastor of New Corinth Baptist Church addressed the Board.
“My concern is for our cemetery, as well as the church. To us our cemetery is sacred. It’s where we go when we lay our loved ones to rest. And who wants to go to the cemetery, maybe just to visit, maybe to put some new flowers, [during] birthdays, holidays, and have to look across a fence and all of these solar panels, making that low humming noise?”
Justin Edge, an attorney representing several landowners, addressed the Board. Among other arguments, he mentioned the tenuous relationship between SA Solar and Samsung.
“If there is any damage to the area and surrounding areas, we would be stuck suing SA Solar LLC, which is a one-off LLC. The parent company and all the shareholders would be insulated if something were to go wrong, and they would profit from the project.”
Commissioner Jim Ried addressed several questions to Wells.
“What is SA Solar’s relationship to Silicon Ranch?”
“There is no relationship to Silicon Ranch” Wells responded.
“What is SA Solar’s relationship to Samsung?”
“SA solar is a subsidiary of Samsung” Wells answered.
“Is Silicon Ranch not a subsidiary of Samsung?”
“Not to my knowledge” Wells replied.
“What is SA Solar’s relationship to IEA constructors?”
“I’m aware of that company, I am not aware that they are working with SA Solar at this time” Wells answered.
IEA constructors were responsible for a solar farm that caused run off silt to damage the water quality of a nearby lake.
“So IEA constructors will not be the ones in charge of building and developing this project?”
“I don’t believe any decisions have been made about who the contractor will be to construct the project” Wells responded.
“What is SA Solar’s unencumbered net worth?”
“I don’t have that information” Wells responded.
In response to a question as to whether the company could afford damages if there was an issue, Wells responded that he believed the company was “adequately capitalized.”
Chairman Mark Waddell concluded the solar portion of the meeting.
“We will come back and convene on the 21rst.”
He mentioned that a decision was not guaranteed for that date. A five minute recess was granted so that parties interested in solar could exit without sitting for the rest of the meeting.