The Louisa County Board of Supervisors tabled a vote on an alternate truck route, approved a sixth utility-scale solar project and committed to spend $600,000 more on New Bridge Fire and Rescue Station at their Nov. 22 meeting.
A new fire and EMS station is planned near the Lake Anna Food Lion on Route 208. The board previously approved $900,000 for the construction of the building, including $100,000 raised by the community.
County Administrator Christian Goodwin told the board on Monday that additional funding is needed and requested the board approve $600,000 more for the project. He said a request for proposals for construction could be ready within one month.
The board unanimously approved the request; the supplemental appropriation will come from the Long Term School Capital Projects Assigned Fund Balance.
Chopping Road trucks
The proposal for a new truck route to take tractor trailers off of Chopping Road (Route 623) and Davis Highway (Route 22) generated significant discussion, after Town of Mineral officials complained that they were not consulted.
The alternate route recommended the use of Mineral Avenue/Pendleton Road (U.S. Route 522) and Jefferson Highway (U.S. 33) rather than Chopping Road. Trucks would still be allowed to access Chopping Road, but not through trucks. For example, if a piece of property along Chopping Road is being logged, a truck could be used to haul logs from the site.
Supervisor Bob Babyok (Green Springs District) asked if Chopping Road could be improved to accommodate the recent increase in truck traffic. Virginia Department of Transportation Resident Engineer Alan Saunders said it could be done and he would look into it.
Town of Mineral Mayor Pam Harlowe and fellow council member Ed Kube spoke at the meeting and said the town was not given enough information. Town officials say it would be difficult for trucks to negotiate the turn at the traffic light where routes 522 and 22 meet.
During the discussion, Supervisor Duane Adams (Mineral) asked that VDOT advertise a public hearing to prohibit through trucks on Shannon Hill Road (Route 605). The potential for more truck traffic in the future on that road has been a hot topic among some residents since the county began developing Shannon Hill Business Park near Interstate 64.
Latest solar project
The board approved the county’s sixth utility-scale solar project by a 6-0 vote. Supervisor Eric Purcell (Louisa District) abstained from the vote and sat in the audience during the discussion because he is one of the property’s owners.
He and his father, Charles Purcell, have worked with the English company Aura Power Solar (USA), LLC to build a 448.9 acre solar farm, known as the Mine and Hemmer project, that would produce up to 94 megawatts. The solar panels will be located on a currently forested tract between Chopping Road and Zachary Taylor Highway (Route 522).
Aura Power requested a conditional use permit and the determination that the proposed facility is in accordance with the 2040 Louisa Comprehensive Plan.
Adams brought up a second project Aura had been working on at the same time as Mine and Hemmer, near Northeast Creek Reservoir. The second project, known as Fisher Chewning and also owned by the Purcells, would produce up to 150 megawatts, while the one up for discussion on Monday would only provide 94 megawatts.
Adams thought it was interesting that the two projects together will produce 244 megawatts, but are listed as two separate projects to avoid higher taxes.
Frances Boreham of Aura Power told Adams the company is unable to increase the amount of production on the Fisher Chewning site because they have already submitted two different applications to PJM, the organization that coordinates the movement of wholesale electricity in the Mid-Atlantic region.
During the public hearing, Louisa resident Bill Witt voiced his concern about the impact the solar facility would have on wildlife and water usage. He said that 80 percent of the sun that hits the panels is not directly used. Several other residents spoke in support of the project.
Editor's note: The original version of this article inaccurately expressed Supervisor Duane Adams' comment to Alan Saunders about truck traffic on Shannon Hill Road.