12/8/22 –Third solar energy facility planned:
During a workshop on 11/15/22, the Jefferson County Planning Commission approved the 878-acre Rippon solar project, making this the third Solar Energy Facility planned for development in Jefferson County.
The applicant, Torch Clean Energy is proposing a 99 MWac solar electric generating facility, which will consist of 215,000 solar panels, a new substation to connect the solar facility with the electric grid, and underground utilities. The project site has existing high voltage power lines running through the property.
The WV Observer, previously published a map representing the areas in the County most likely to meet the criteria to develop commercial-scale solar projects. The County Planning and Zoning department approved concept plans for three of the six sites:
Wild Hill (EDF Renewables) – 841 acres
Blake (Horus/OPD Energy) – 516 acres
Rippon (Torch Clean Energy) – 878 acres
Legal Status Countywide:
Several residents of Jefferson County have taken legal action against local county government related to recent decisions on the solar energy facility development.
County legal updates include discussion of the following pending lawsuits:
Board of Zoning Appeals:
- Jefferson County Circuit Court Case #CC-19-2022-C-81
(RE: ZTA22-01 Solar Energy Facilities) Rockwell v. JCPC, JCBZA and JCC
- Jefferson County Circuit Court Case #CC-19-2022-C-103
(RE: 22-4-CUP Blake Solar Energy Facility) Stone v. JCBZA
- Jefferson County Circuit Court Case #CC-19-2022-C-141
(RE: Rippon Solar Energy Facility / File 22-9-CUP) Rockwell v. JCBZA
12/8/22 – agenda packet – https://www.jeffersoncountywv.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=22918
Jefferson County Commission
- Discussion of legal issues and potential action regarding proposed Solar Text Amendment to the Jefferson County Zoning and Land Development Ordinance, File #ZTA22-01, including bonding, comprehensive plan, and related matters. Discussion of public hearing on proposed text amendment, review and consideration of amendment text, adoption of amendment and/or modification of amendment text and/or Planning Commission review and associated fees. Discussion of Jefferson County Circuit Court Civil Action No.’s 2021-C-33 through 37 and Jefferson County Circuit Court Civil Action No.’s 2021-C-46 through 50, Jefferson County Circuit Court Civil Action No. CC-19-2022-C-6, Jefferson County Circuit Court Civil Action No. 2022-C-81, and WV Supreme Court No.’s 21-0727, 21-0728, and 21-0731.
12/1/22 – agenda packet: https://www.jeffersoncountywv.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=22838
10/27/22 – Third Conditional Use Permit approved:
262 acres of the proposed 878-acre project are located within the Charles Town Urban Growth Boundary, where solar energy facilities are permitted by right.
It is important to note that 737 acres of the project lie in a rural/agriculture zone outside of the Urban Growth Boundary of the County.
According to §8-6-4a of the West Virginia Code, Urban Growth Boundaries (UGBs) are…
“an area around and outside the corporate limits of a municipality within which there is a sufficient supply of developable land within the boundary for at least a prospective twenty-year period of municipal growth based on demographic forecasts and the time reasonably required to effectively provide municipal services to the identified area.”
Urban Growth Boundaries (UGB) are the sections of Jefferson County where urban scale development is to be targeted over the planning horizon of Envision Jefferson 2035. The Jefferson County Comprehensive Plan, Envision Jefferson 2035 addresses a key concept of future land use and growth management to better influence the location of new development.
The Rippon project spans 9 rural/agricultural parcels along the Shenandoah River and Bullskin Run, on Old Shennandale Rd, Myerstown Rd, Kabletown Rd. and Dutch Hill Rd. in Charles Town.
“The subject parcels, comprised of 737 acres, are currently used for agricultural purposes, including cropland, hayfields, and pasture. The land is generally cleared land, but includes some trees along rock outcroppings, field boundaries, and along the Shenandoah River and Bullskin Creek.”
“Portions of the project site are located within the delineated floodplain area; however, all of the panels will be outside of the floodplain area and will comply with the 25-foot setback requirement from the edge.”
The project will consist of 215 thousand solar modules, inverters and a new substation to connect the 99 MW solar facility with the electric grid of existing high voltage power lines running through the properties.
Review the request for a Conditional Use Permit, (as defined in the county Zoning Ordinance,) to operate a Solar Energy Facility, approved by the Board of Zoning Appeals, agenda packet, 10/27/22, page 93: https://www.jeffersoncountywv.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=22612
Please visit our Solar Energy page for the full timeline of events.