A decision on a controversial solar farm in northeast Pasco County is headed to an appeal at a public hearing on Aug. 7 in Dade City before the Pasco County Commission.
Two appeals were filed in May on the decision by the Pasco County Planning Commission to approve an exceptional use permit for the project.
One appeal is from Sandra Noble and the other from Tampa attorney Gordon Schiff on behalf of his clients, Gordon and Kathleen Comer. Noble and the Comers live near the proposed project site.
First Solar Electric, which has a contract with Tampa Electric Company (TECO), wants to install about 460,000 photovoltaic solar panels on about 350 acres, on both sides of Blanton Road. The solar farm, known as the Mountain View Solar Project, would produce on average about 53 megawatts of power, which would be fed to TECO’s power grid.
The project has produced spirited debate at previous hearings.
Area neighbors say the project will destroy one of the county’s best assets – its scenic views. They also differ with how county officials have interpreted Pasco’s development regulations, and say that the solar farm is a power plant that should be placed in an industrial district.
County officials say the solar farm doesn’t fit the legal definition of a power plant, but it is suitable in some agriculturally zoned areas, with a special exemption permit. They also say Pasco’s regulations are in line with how other counties approve solar farms.
Commissioners approved the Aug. 7 appeal hearing date during their July 10 meeting in Dade City.
They discussed other dates in September and October, after Pasco County Attorney Jeffrey Steinsnyder said the people who filed the appeals had objected to the August date.
However, commissioners cited scheduling conflicts and stuck with the hearing in August.
Published July 18, 2018