VERONA — The Augusta County Board of Supervisors has completed the first part of a process that aims to rewrite the comprehensive plan to include utility-scale solar projects of the type narrowly defeated in the spring.
The first task before work could begin in earnest was coming up with an advisory committee. The committee will be asked to help guide county planners and staff in arriving at recommendations to be presented to the board, which will take up potential amendments sometime after a scheduled January public hearing.
On Wednesday, supervisors agreed on the remaining appointments to fill out the panel after failing to complete the job at their Aug. 28 meeting. Each of the county’s seven districts has two representatives from the community.
During the board’s previous meeting, several residents voiced a concern of what they said was a lack of representation in the Beverley Manor District. A number of people complained of potential nominees from outside the district, represented by Supervisor Butch Wells.
Board members didn’t address the committee’s makeup during that meeting other than a comment from board Chairman Gerald Garber, who said no final decisions on every nomination had been made at that point. After recessing into closed session that night, citing the commission appointments as a personnel-related matter, supervisors returned to name several but not all committee members.
On Wednesday, the board again discussed the nominees in closed session before returning to appoint the remaining committee members.
The members appointed Wednesday night and the districts they represent were: Beverley Manor, Nancy Sorrells and Mike Moneymaker; North River, Susan Byerly and Charlie Burton; and South River, Paula Figgatt.
The previously appointed members are: Middle River, Ed Long and Danny Shreckhise; Pastures, Eric Obaugh and Jack Wilson; Wayne, Jeff Gentry and Mike Rose; Riverheads, Bobby Eavers and Patsy Earhart; South River, Stan Sikorski.
Supervisor Mike Shull, who represents Riverheads, is the board liaison to the committee. Planning Commission member Steve Bridge also was named.
On Aug. 14, county senior planner Leslie Tate outlined a proposed timeline for creating the committee and process for considering amendments to the comprehensive plan, with the possibility of changes being made by the end of the year. The board directed staff to consider revising the plan to include utility-scale solar projects following a decision in May to deny a special-use permit for what would have been the county’s first solar farm, 125-megawatt project to be built on more than 900 acres in the Stuarts Draft and Lyndhurst areas.
The new timeline to discuss and propose amendments, bring them before the public and ultimately to the board for a vote appears to be pushed back until early next year.
According to the county, staff is scheduled to brief the board on recommendations and requests from the public in time for a public hearing by the Planning Commission on Jan. 14 and one before supervisors on Jan. 22.
A board vote on any amendments to the comp plan would likely occur no earlier than February if the schedule remains unchanged.