44-megawatt solar farm proposed at Moonlight, Burwells Bay roads

Published 5:55 pm Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Isle of Wight County’s Planning Commission has scheduled a Nov. 28 public hearing on a proposed 44-megawatt solar farm.

Moonlight Solar LLC, as the planned 523-acre facility has been named, would be located near the intersection of Moonlight and Burwells Bay roads near Isle of Wight’s border with Surry County.

According to a public notice published in the Nov. 15 edition of The Smithfield Times, the application of Moonlight Solar and six landowning members of the Edwards family includes a request to withdraw approximately 523 acres from the Moonlight Agricultural/Forestal District.

Agricultural/forestal districts are voluntary creations of county governments that allow landowners special land use rates when their properties are assessed for real estate taxes in exchange for a pledge to keep their land in agriculture, forestry or open-space use for a set number of years, usually 10.

In May, county supervisors approved a zoning ordinance change capping the cumulative acreage of solar farms in Isle of Wight to 2% of the county’s prime farm soils, or 2,446 acres. According to Amy Ring, the county’s director of community development, Moonlight Solar would not be subject to the cap as the application for the project was submitted prior to the supervisors’ adoption of the ordinance revisions.

​​According to Caleb Kitchen, the county’s project manager for the Moonlight Solar project, the application came in on May 16, two days before the supervisors’ adoption of the 2% cap. Moonlight, were it to be approved, would put the county over the limit at 2.04% or 2,500 acres of prime farmland, Kitchen said.

The hearing will be held during the commission’s regular meeting, which begins at 6 p.m. on the specified date in the boardroom of the county’s government complex at Monument Circle.