Still no decision on Darlington County solar farms

DARLINGTON, SC (WBTW) – Darlington County Council voted unanimously Tuesday to hold over a vote on the county’s Renewable Energy Ordinance one last time. They want one more workshop to make sure new members understand the solar farm debate, and to settle some of the finer points of the law.

District 8 Councilman David Coker sat patiently during most of Tuesday’s meeting, until the plan to bring as many as eight solar farms to Darlington County came up for a vote.

“We need to look out for the entire county,” Coker said “Not just the landowners or the people living around the solar farms.”

Coker said he had several amendments he wanted added to the ordinance, specifically just how close solar farms can be to homes and other buildings.

“They don’t want it in their face,” explained Coker. “They want it set back from their homes a little bit, to make sure the buffers are good.”

The ordinance–which has already been amended many times by both Council and the county Planning Commission–says solar farms must be at least 200 feet from the nearest home. That’s still too close for comfort for many who live nearby, and too far for solar developers like Jon Davis.

“A lot of places that don’t like solar just don’t like the looks of it,” said Davis, who owns North Carolina-based Capital Solar.

Davis also expressed concern with how long the process in Darlington County is starting to take.

“We’re kind of more or less going back to the workshop now,” he said. “So, we’ve taken a few steps back.”

Steps Councilman David Coker hopes will end up being in the right direction.

“The information is out there,” Coker explained. “I just think we need to iron out the verbiage in the ordinance and make sure all the I’s are dotted and the T’s are crossed.”

No date has been set on that workshop just yet. Council also agreed not to send the ordinance back to the Planning Commission again, choosing to let the people know that they will make the final decision as the county’s representatives.