Robeson County Zoning Board of Adjustment reverses decision on Rowland solar farm, OKs permit
The Robeson County Zoning Board of Adjustment unanimously reversed a decision of the Board of Commissioners on Monday night to deny a conditional use permit for a solar farm in Rowland.
The town of Rowland and several adjoining property owners have repeatedly voiced their opposition to the solar farm, citing health concerns and the possible effect on property values.
Last month, the commissioners denied the permit, saying that the petitioner, Strata Solar, a solar electric company from Chapel Hill, did not prove that the proposed 64-acre solar farm would not affect property values, impede normal development of surrounding properties or prevent others from using or enjoying their property.
Strata appealed the decision and sent a Raleigh lawyer, Elizabeth Trahos, along with six expert witnesses, including solar professionals, engineers and an appraiser, to speak to the reasons for the denial.
A half dozen Rowland residents again voiced their opposition, but did not present any evidence or expert testimony during Monday night's hearing.
The board voted 5-0 to reverse their former decision.
Commissioner Lance Herndon voiced his opposition, but he was not appointed at the beginning of the meeting to be a voting member of the Board of Adjustment.
“I had questions and concerns regarding health and safety, and they were answered,” Commissioner Hubert Sealey said. “We got a lot of new evidence to consider. We have to have factual-based information for a denial.”
The community has 30 days to appeal the decision.