The Board of Carroll County Commissioners has postponed a scheduled Thursday discussion on the recently enacted six-month solar moratorium to allow them more time to consider next steps in the process.
On March 9, commissioners unanimously approved a six-month moratorium on reviewing, processing and permitting community solar facilities on property zoned for agriculture.
Christopher Heyn, the county’s director of the Department of Land and Resource Management, said then that he planned to discuss potential changes to the county code on community solar facilities at the commissioners’ next meeting, March 16.
Commissioners have now moved that discussion to March 23.
Once commissioners are finished, their proposals would go to the county’s Planning & Zoning Commission for its review and recommendations.
“Having just made the decision less than a week ago, the commissioners want to take some time to consider what they have heard over the last few weeks and thoughtfully consider individually how to direct staff on how to proceed before having a joint discussion,” Chris Winebrenner, the county government’s communications manager, said in an email.
The county sent out a news release announcing the change Monday.
For months, commissioners have held public meetings during which many concerned residents spoke out for and against the moratorium.
In 2021, commissioners adopted a Community Solar Zoning Text Amendment to the county’s solar code that allowed solar energy farms on certain portions of land zoned agricultural. According to the current code, the solar panels can only be placed on 20 acres of those parcels. After the community solar panels are constructed, the remaining property goes into a permanent conservation district to prevent expansion of the solar facility.
In January, after hearing concerns about the code update from residents who live near the proposed solar farms, commissioners asked staff to draft a proposed ordinance that would halt processing and permitting of these solar facilities for six months, so officials can decide what in the code needs to be changed.
There are currently seven solar projects planned in the county, but none have been constructed.
A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the six-month moratorium on reviewing, processing and permitting community solar facilities was only for county-owned property.