Kent County sets public hearing for solar complex

Texas company again seeks approval for Smryna site

By Leann Schenke
Posted 12/1/21

DOVER — Freepoint Solar is back on the Kent County Regional Planning Commission’s agenda for review of its proposed Cedar Creek Solar, outside of Smyrna.

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Kent County sets public hearing for solar complex

Texas company again seeks approval for Smryna site

Posted

DOVER — Freepoint Solar is back on the Kent County Regional Planning Commission’s agenda for review of its proposed Cedar Creek Solar, outside of Smyrna.

A public hearing on the complex is the first item on the agenda for the commission’s Thursday meeting, which begins at 6:30 p.m.

The public is invited to attend the meeting in person, at 555 Bay Road, Dover, or virtually. For more information, visit here.

According to Kent County Levy Court documents, staff are again recommending approval of Freepoint Solar’s site plan. Following the Thursday hearing, the commission will take a vote on the proposal during a Dec. 9 business meeting. If approved then, the plan will go before Levy Court commissioners Dec. 21.

This is the second attempt by Freepoint Solar this year to get consent for its solar complex project, having originally received conditional approval from RPC on Sept. 9. There have been no changes to the plan since then.

Levy Court commissioners, however, denied the plans in a Sept. 28 meeting, after hearing about two hours of testimony. The majority of those who spoke voiced their opposition to the initiative.

Freepoint Solar, a Texas-based company, proposed a fenced solar array with about 230,000 panels and 22 inverters, which would cover about 260.46 acres of land on a nearly 530-acre farm. The acreage is on three parcels on the north sides of Lighthouse and Woodland Beach roads, in an area zoned for agriculture conservation.

The land is currently being used for farming and residential purposes.

The last time Freepoint Solar sought approval for its site plan, RPC accepted the company’s request to lower the number of the project’s required trees from 3,640 to 516. For nonresidential land development, the county normally requires one tree planted for every 3,000 square feet.

The commission also accepted the company’s request to plant a buffer rather than trees in some areas, since trees could hinder the ability of the panels to function.

RPC also gave conditional approval for a request for lesser setbacks. Freepoint Solar sought a waiver of the required 25-foot setback from wetlands, the 100-foot buffer from all streams and the 50-foot buffer from drainage ditches.

The company’s justification was that support beams for the panels do not disturb the areas in which they are placed.

Freepoint Solar’s application, and the public response to it, prompted Levy Court to introduce an ordinance that, if it had passed, would have prevented any applications for solar complexes. However, the commissioners opted to not put that moratorium in place during their Oct. 19 meeting.

Instead, the commissioners instructed the Department of Planning Services to begin drafting an ordinance that would change the current standards for acceptance of potential solar complexes.

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