by Jackie Nunnery
HEATHSVILLE—The Northumberland planning commission on Thursday, October 20, further defined protections within the utility scale solar ordinance. With the final recommended changes in place, the revised ordinance will be reviewed by the county attorney, Eric Gregory, before the commission holds a public hearing.
The previously discussed changes include prohibiting utility scale solar projects from R1 and R2 residential zoned properties; adding a fire protection plan as part of the emergency operations plan; requiring the inclusion of the federal and state environmental inventory and impact statements related to national or state parks, wildlife management areas, conservation easements, recreational areas, or known historical/cultural resources within three miles; requiring a landscape agreement and surety; and adding a requirement that the decommissioning plan be reviewed every two years by a licensed engineer of the county’s choosing, to be paid for by the project applicant.
Much of the discussion again centered around a minimum 25-foot vegetative buffer, which could be either existing vegetation or new material. In addition to showing location, size and type of new plant material, landscape plans would include supplemental planting to ensure year-round screening. A required surety for the life of the project would also cover the costs of any necessary replanting.
“If any of the plants are dead or destroyed, they need to be replanted at the….
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