Planning - Solar Facility Planning & Zoning Analysis
The Berkley Group began working with Mecklenburg County early in 2017 to assist them with utility-scale solar facility applications. This relatively new land use has caught many localities off-guard with few, if any, policies or regulations in place to assist with a proper process and application review. As with many counties, Mecklenburg’s Comprehensive Plan was silent regarding solar facilities and the required state code review (§15.2-2232) is a necessary first step in processing these public utility applications. It is difficult to find a project substantially in accord with the Comprehensive Plan when the plan is silent on such facilities. Additionally, Mecklenburg’s Zoning Ordinance used the state model for solar facilities which is inadequate for utility-scale facilities of hundreds or thousands of acres. After extensive industry research, a series of recommendations were made to the County’s Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors. These recommendations were turned into Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Ordinance amendments to create a policy and regulatory framework to effectively review and evaluate utility-scale solar facility applications.