The Town of Smithfield will be updating their ordinances this year to add specific requirements for solar farms.
Town Councilman Charles A. Williams had requested a moratorium on solar farms but was advised against it by Town Attorney Bob Spence at the June 2nd council meeting.
Discussions about the need for more regulations on solar farms came after Smithfield Solar LLC was given permission at the June 2nd meeting to place a 5-megawatt solar farm on 40 acres of land owned by the Robert E. Fleming Family Trust located on US70 Business West near North Rogers Drive in the towns ETJ.
Chris Killenberg with Smithfield Solar LLC said the solar farm is designed to last for 30 years. After 30 years the panels will produce about 80 percent of what they did on day one. After 30 years the solar panels can be replaced or they can be disassembled and the land can be used for farming or development.
The council unanimously approved a conditional use permit for the solar farm, which will tie into the Duke Energy power grid.
The solar farm is approximately 1,000 feet off US70 but it is in close proximity to the Johnston County Airport. The developers must receive approval from the Federal Aviation Administration that the glare from the facility will not create any adverse impacts on flights in the vicinity of the airport.
Planning Director Paul Embler told council members no other requests for solar farms are currently pending. The council asked Embler to create a draft solar farm ordinance as soon as possible to present to board members, who are concerned too many solar farms might box-in or hamper future commercial development in areas like US70 Business.