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May 14, 2021

Supervisors reject proposed solar farm near Bealeton

Pennsylvania-based Dynamic Energy lost its bid to build the solar farm just east of Route 17, south of Bealeton.
When I looked at this, I didn’t want to take solid farmland out of production. Those are good soils on that property. For me, I do not want to see that removed from farming.
— Supervisor Rick Gerhardt (Cedar Run District)
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
Fauquier’s board of supervisors Thursday night put an end to a Pennsylvania-based company’s plans to build a five-megawatt solar facility on 40 acres of farmland near Bealeton.

Agreeing with the county planning commission’s April 15 decision, the board effectively concluded that Dynamic Energy LLC’s proposed solar project failed to comply with Fauquier’s comprehensive plan — a long-range guide to future land uses.

Under the zoning ordinance, a comprehensive plan compliance review had to be completed before Dynamic Energy could submit a special exception permit application to construct the project.

Without comment Thursday night, the board voted, 5-0, in refusing to “consider overruling” the planning commission’s decision that the proposal failed to conform with the comprehensive plan.

Supervisor Rick Gerhardt’s Cedar Run District includes the proposed Bealeton Marsh Solar project that would have occupied part of an active 170-acre farm along Route 17.

“When I looked at this, I didn’t want to take solid farmland out of production,” Mr. Gerhardt said in an interview of his opposition to the project. “Those are good soils on that property. For me, I do not want to see that removed from farming.”

Unlike the planning commission, the board didn’t have to conduct a public hearing before its vote.

Five people, including two Dynamic Energy representatives, spoke during the commission public hearing last month.

Among other things, three opponents who spoke during the hearing argued that the project permanently would remove the proposed 40-acre site from productive farm use.

But a Dynamic Energy representative told the planning commission that a secured bond would ensure the site’s restoration to its agricultural state.

Voting 3-2, the planning commission concluded that the project didn’t comply with the comprehensive plan.

“I have a real problem with taking good farmland for this use,” Planning Commissioner John Meadows (Lee) said during a work session before the panel’s April vote.

The Bealeton Marsh Solar project would have produced enough electricity to power about 1,000 homes, according Dynamic Energy.

Dominion Virginia Power developed and owns Fauquier’s first solar farm — a 20-megawatt plant on 125 acres east of Remington that can generate enough electricity to power 5,000 homes. The facility began operating in 2017.

Contact Don Del Rosso at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 540-270-0300.
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