Hattiesburg City Council to reevaluate land development code for solar farms

Hattiesburg City Council to reevaluate land development code for solar farms

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The Hattiesburg City Council has an agenda full of land planning and zoning items on Tuesday, particularly changing a code to accommodate solar farms.

The city's planning commission voted to approve an ordinance to amend a land development code at its meeting on Oct. 7 and is recommending the change to the council.

The amendment would add a definition of "solar farm" to the code, that would read "energy generation facility that converts sunlight into electricity by multiple photovoltaic (PV) solar panels mounted on stationary poles and considered as a primary land use."

It also requires any land defined as a solar farm to have a minimum lot size of 10 acres, a minimum of 50 foot vegetated or landscaped buffer around the project perimeter, environmental assessment to be provided for project, land appraisal report to be provided for project and public meeting to be facilitated by the applicant prior to public Hearing.

Councilman Carter Carroll said he had heard from some resident who would like that increased to 75 feet. Carroll was concerned about ensuring the landscaping would stay green throughout the year.

While it would be applied to any solar energy company, it would most immediately impact the Strata Solar proposal to build a solar farm on Bonhomie Road near Presbyterian Christian School.

The planning commission also approved the company's request for a permit at the Oct. 7 meeting.

Todd Jackson of the Area Development Partnership also presented the council with a plan to change land use in the city.

The ADP is asking to transfer the documents originally given to Green Bay Converting to Sofidel, and Italian based paper company looking to expand its American offices.

Hattiesburg would be only one of five cities in the U.S. with a Sofidel plant. Jackson said the company is committing to a $120 million capital investment and the creation of 230-260 jobs over five years.

Jackson said Green Bay Converting would not be leaving Hattiesburg, just moving to a new location on James Street.

T-Bones Records has also petitioned for an addition of a covered patio along North 21st Ave.