STUARTS DRAFT, Va. (WHSV) — Tuesday night, members of the Augusta County Planning Commission got an earful for hours about a proposed solar project in the Stuarts Draft area from those both against and for it.
Rick Pfizenmayer’s farm is on Round Hill Drive. He said the proposed Round Hill Solar Project will impact not only nearby neighbors, but the community as well.
“It upsets me because we came to this particular area because of its rural nature, because of the beautiful landscapes of this area, the scenic Shenandoah Valley is known for,” Pfizenmayer explained.
The project plan shows the solar facility would be an overall 880-acre site, with the solar facility taking up about 560. According to the FAQ page on the Round Hill Solar Project website, vegetative buffering would be installed to reduce the visual impact of the site.
“It doesn’t affect just the immediate neighbors, it affects everyone in the viewshed. It affects the many thousands of people that travel Tinkling Spring Road, White Hill Road, Churchmans Mill Road and Round Hill Drive,” Pfizenmayer said.
On Tuesday, the Planning Commission met to discuss how the project intercepts with the comprehensive plan of the county.
“The Planning Commission is the recommending body, and they review whether it is in substantial accord with the comprehensive plan, and then that recommendation will go on to the Board of Supervisors, as they continue to review the project and specifically the special use request,” Leslie Tate, senior planner for Augusta County, explained ahead of the meeting.
It was after 11 p.m. Tuesday night when the planning commission voted 4-3 that the project was not in accordance with the comprehensive plan.
The Round Hill Solar Project is being developed by Strata Solar. WHSV reached out to the company, but has yet to receive a response.
The FAQ says that the project would bring $6 million in revenue back to the county.
The following is from the project website: “In addition to creating construction and permanent jobs, the project will provide over $6 Million of revenues directly to Augusta County, via a $1 Million siting contribution, over $4 Million in revenue share payments, and over $1.3 Million in potential increased tax payments. The project’s revenue can be used to help fund the County’s priorities through a dedicated yearly source of revenue from the project that may also be leveraged to provide long-term financing for major needs.”
The Round Hill Solar Project has created a website answering various concerns from the community. You can find more information by clicking here.