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Solar farm vote delayed

ELIZABETH HEFFNER

Staff Writer

Roughly 100 people attended the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners Meeting at the Civic Center Monday night, with the majority interested in the recent developments with Strata Solar Farms. Strata Solar, LLC has requested a conditional use permit to construct a solar power generator facility in the county’s eastern end.

Commissioner Alex Patton noted that Commissioner Carroll Mitchem had recused himself from the zoning conditional permit vote.

Jim Scarborough, a representative for the residents of SailView, asked for the decision to be moved to the December meeting because they have a Nov. 25 hearing date with the Board of Adjustments.

“There are a number of interpretations that we’ve asked Mr. (Randy) Hawkins (county Zoning Administrator) to do…and while we haven’t appealed all of them, we’ve appealed quite a few of them to the board of adjustment,” said Scarborough. “We’ve also shared that with Strata Solar, and we believe that that would be important to the outcome of your hearing to know the interpretations of the board of adjustments and how it affects Strata Solar. And as I understand it, Strata Solar does not oppose our motion.”

Strata Solar’s attorney said that they were fine with postponing the decision.

The board also decided to postpone the zoning hearing for American Tower Corporation’s request to construct a 195-foot wireless telecommunications tower in Ironton Township due to a family emergency with one of the company’s representatives. Lincoln County’s planning board voted 9-0 to approve the tower corporation’s request to erect a 240-foot telecommunications tower in the Howards Creek Township.

Another hot topic during the meeting surrounded the request to amend a conditional use permit for the Reel Amethyst Mine. Presently, the permit limits participation to members of the Mountain Area Gem and Mineral Association and limits digs to four weekends a year. Property owner Francis Sutphin is requesting that other individuals and groups be allowed to participate, allow one weekend dig per month and revise the permit’s parking restrictions. MAGMA president Richard Jacquot stated that the permit should be cancelled because Sutphin violated the permit by allowing other clubs to dig at the mine in August.

Several nearby residents came forward to discuss the mine’s future. One nearby resident stated the permit should not be amended, but rather taken off the record completely. She feels the mine causes too much of a nuisance due to noise and traffic. Another Timber Road neighbor, Billy Nance, stated that she had lived there for 50 years and had never experienced any noise disturbances.

“I would like them to get a permit so Boy Scouts and church groups could visit,” Nance said.

Members of Catawba County’s Mineral Club also spoke at the meeting, stating it was important the mine remained open as it is the only place in Western North Carolina to find amethyst.

After the general public had spoken, the county’s planning board deliberated and voted 9-0 to recommend approval with revisions to some of the requested amendments.

The County Board of Commissioners plans to hold their next meeting on Dec. 2 at 6:30 p.m. in the Citizens Center.

 

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