Clarendon OKs zoning for solar farm


Clarendon County Council met in Summerton on Monday and conducted several public hearings on proposed ordinances.

Council heard a presentation from South Carolina Department of Transportation District 7 Director Kevin Gantt, who outlined SCDOT's plans to make use of new funding from the gas tax passed by the General Assembly earlier this year.

Gantt said Clarendon County would receive additional C-funds from the state, bringing the county's total to approximately $1.6 million annually. However, the county would have to spend 33 percent of that money on state roads, an increase from the current 25 percent.

He also said that a bridge on Old River Road is built on private property, and although the state owned the roadway, it does not own the property or the right of way. State law would not allow reconstruction of the road over the dam unless the property owner repairs the dam and brings it up to specifications.

After holding public hearings, council passed second readings of amendments to ordinances concerning projects Gordon I and II. The amendments modify previously passed fee-in-lieu-of-taxes agreements with the owners of two solar projects.

Council also held a public hearing on an ordinance to restructure the Clarendon County Development Board. The most significant change would be one board member would be selected at large, instead of from the Manning area, County Administrator David Epperson said.

After the hearing, council passed third reading of the ordinance.

A public hearing on a change of the zoning of a parcel near Paxville from Agriculture I to Agriculture II was also held.

Strata Solar, a major solar firm, has applied to build solar farms on the property. Such farms are not allowed in Agriculture I-zoned areas.

During the public hearing, Paxville Mayor Wade McLeod said many residents in the area were initially against the proposal, but most of their concerns had been resolved.

"We learned more about solar in the last two months than we thought we ever would," he said.

McLeod said a proposal for a bond agreement to finance cleanup after the site is no longer in use came out of discussion among Paxville residents.

"This is the biggest thing that's ever been on that side of the county," McLeod said. "It's a little bit scary for us."

McLeod urged council to provide more support to Paxville-area concerns, including improvement to an intersection next to the proposed solar farm and increased law enforcement in the area. He also said the town could use assistance from the county in applying for grants.

After the hearing, council passed third reading of the ordinance.

Council also held a public hearing on an ordinance that would merge the county's Delinquent Tax Collector's Department with the Office of the Clarendon County Treasurer. The merger would allow taxpayers to conduct all of their business in the County Administration Building, County Administrator David Epperson said.

After the hearing, council approved second reading of the ordinance.

Similarly, council approved second reading of an ordinance to merge Clarendon County Animal Control with Clarendon County Sheriff's Office after conducting a public hearing.

In other matters, council approved resurfacing projects on portions of George Harvin Road and Ram Bay Road, as well as the northeast section of Powell Circle, using available C-funds.