PCBOS approves Revenue Sharing for Solar Energy Projects and Energy Storage Systems Ordinance

The Patrick County Board of Supervisors (PCBOS) approved the Revenue Sharing for Solar Energy Projects and Energy Storage Systems Ordinance, following a public hearing where all speakers but one opposed it.

Wayne Kirkpatrick, a landowner near the proposed Energix solar project, was the only speaker at the public hearing to not speak against the ordinance. “I’ve got no issue with it at all as far as solar energy goes,” he said. “The concerns are that, down the road, that they decommission the solar panels … I hope that your ordinance will take care of those items.”

Kirkpatrick added that he hopes the ordinance will protect surrounding landowners as well as the people who will inherit that land in the future. He also said the plants that grow under solar panels can be good grazing for animals if done correctly.

Jeanne Trabulsi, a resident of Patrick County for 50 years and a member of the board of Virginia Coalition for Human Rights (VCHR), suggested that changes be made to the solar ordinance to protect the county based on VCHR experience and research on Energix.

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Trabulsi said that only 8 of the 24 proposed Energix solar projects have been denied county permits “and most of those eight have avoided compliance with county laws by buying existing, prior approved solar installations” and that now that that equipment is aging out the counties and residents are stuck dealing with it.

Trabulsi said he sent documents and photographs to the board as proof of his claims and studies on where attempts are being made to restore solar panel sites for agricultural use.

One speaker from the Dan River District urged the board to reject the solar project based on concerns of electronic waste, water pollution, farm land damage, her distrust of the company Energix and the fact that surrounding counties have rejected similar offers.

Four other Patrick County citizens, Mary Beth Clement, Kurt Bozenmayer, Jessica Wilkins and one whose name sounded like Michelle McCan, also spoke in the public comment section with similar concerns.

During the closed session of the meeting, the board discussed the ordinance and approved it once back to regular session.

Denise Stirewalt nominated past PCBOS Chair Clyde DeLoach to serve as board chair for another year, but due to lack of second, nominated next that Clayton Kendrick to take position as chair. Kendrick was approved by the board.

Stirewalt was nominated and approved as vice chair of the board, though she abstained from the vote, saying that she does not intend to run for board of supervisors in the next election.

The board unanimously approved the 2023 Code of Ethics and the 2023 meeting schedule.

The board approved the adoption of Robert’s Rules of Governance after Kendrick made the change of removing the 3-minute limit that was previously placed on comments from the public.

PCBOS Board Clerk Amy Walker announced the PCBOS committee appointments approved by the board: PCBOS board member Brandon Simmons for the broadband and recreation committees; Kendrick for the Economic Development Authority, Public Service Authority and Executive West Piedmont committees; DeLoach for the social services board; PCBOS Board Member Doug Perry for the LEO, LEPC, Emergency 911, STEP and the Planning Commission committees; Stirewalt for the Solid Waste committee, Tourism Advisory Council; Simmons, Kendrick, Patrick County Circuit Court Clerk Sheri Hazlewood, Patrick County Treasurer Sandra Stone, Patrick County Finance Officer Lori Jones for the Budget Committee; Simmons, Kendrick, Hazlewood, for the Insurance Committee; Simmons and DeLoach for the School Board Liaison and Town-County Liaison; Kendrick and Stirewalt for the West Piedmont Committee; and the entire PCBOS board for the Building Committee.

The board approved the meeting agenda with an amendment, the previous meeting’s minutes and bills, claims and appropriations.

DeLoach read a proclamation from the board to recognize the late Garry DeBruhl for his “dedicated service and contributions to the community and his honorable military service to our country.”

The board held a public comment section in which two citizens, Malcom Roach and Bozemayer, asked when broadband installation was going to be completed and exactly who was going to receive it. Roach requested the Patrick County Economic Development Director Sean Adkins be at the next meeting to answer questions.

Jeb Stuart Rescue Squad Captain Derek Wagner spoke about potentially adjusting the billing practices, changing from soft billing and moving more into hard billing.

The board approved a resolution to terminate state maintenance on Route 809, Epperson Lane.

Atrium Health Enterprise Emergency Medicine Vice President John Blalock gave a presentation on AirCare, an EMS network serving patients, and how it works within Patrick County with the volunteer and non-volunteer rescue squads.

The board was told by Walker that their conflict of interest forms will be due in Feb. 1.

The board put off making a decision on vendors for hauling and disposal of waste because of the new board chair and vice chair and decided to make a decision by the next meeting.

The next board meeting will take place at 6 p.m. on Jan. 23 in the Patrick County Administration building third floor board room.

Monique Holland is a reporter for the Martinsville Bulletin. She can be reached at monique.holland@martinsvillebulletin.com or at 276-734-9603.

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