The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)


October 22, 2013

Oakboro moving forward with wastewater plant sale; reluctant on solar farm

Tuesday, October 22, 2013 — A negative recommendation from the town's planning and zoning board flummoxed officials from Strata Solar Monday night and spurred opponents to a solar farm the company has proposed for property on Hatley Road, as the Board of Commissioners held one public hearing on a proposed text amendment to allow solar farms in residential/agricultural (RA) zones and another on the issuance of a special use permit specifically for the 43-acre project.

Planning and Zoning Board Chairman Allan Mcguire told commissioners that the solar farm would be an industrial use incompatible with RA zoning and reminded them that energy producing facilities are already allowed in industrial zoned areas.

He said his board was guided by the growth plan approved by Oakboro in 2002, which discouraged development in rural extra-territorial jurisdiction (ETJ) areas until at least 2022.

Louis Iannone, Strata Solar's site acquisition manager, said after Monday's meeting that he was blindsided by the Planning and Zoning Board's negative response.

He said he had made presentations at three of the board's recent meetings and was never told that planning officials opposed the text amendment.

In other action, the Board of Commissioners:

• voted to spend $687 to foot half the bill for banners to be installed on 13 light posts to commemorate the town's upcoming centennial celebration, with the Centennial Committee paying the other half. The price includes hardware that can be used to hang other banners as well. Town Administrator Doug Burgess said Oakboro, which will turn 100 in 2015, will get three years use from the green, 17-inch banners, which will feature a drawing of a train with "Town of Oakboro" at the top and "Celebrating 100 years" across the bottom.

• voted to send a draft agreement regarding the sale of Oakboro's Wastewater Treatment Plant to legal staff for review. Terry Whitley, the only person to speak out during a public hearing on the matter, commended the board's efforts to negotiate a contract with the County. He said Stanly County could manage the plant better than a small town and would have a better chance at obtaining grants and entering into regional contracts than would Oakboro.

More details about the town's discussions will appear in Thursday's issue of the SNAP.


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