In April 2021, the County Commission voted to adopt the zoning ordinance amendment. In August 2021, a Circuit Court ruling invalidated this amendment as inconsistent with the county’s Comprehensive Plan [read more]. The County Commission then began the process to amend the county’s Comprehensive Plan, and also entered into discussions with the plaintiffs in this court case. On April 5, 2022, the County Commission announced a settlement with the plaintiffs and voted to amend the amendment to the Comprehensive Plan to allow for utility-scal solar projects with restrictions depending on the land use designation in the Comprehensive Plan.
The Commission has begun the process of requesting the Planning Commission to draft a new zoning ordinance amendment for utility-scale solar that will be consistent with the recent amendment to the Comprehensive Plan.
April 2022 — If the Planning Commission accepts the County Commission’s amended amendment to the Comprehensive Plan, this change will be effective immediately. The County Commision will also request the Planning Commission to draft a new amendment to the zoning ordinance. Once this zoning amendment is presented to the Planning Commission, they will schedule a public hearing, then recommend it to the County Commission. Assuming the County Commission decides to proceed with the Planning Commission’s recommended amendment, the County Commission would hold its own public hearing before voting to adopt the amendment.
September 28, 2021 (7:00 pm) — Jefferson County Planning Commission – Roundtable Session. [zoom link] [agenda link] [packet link (includes staff summary & reference material)]
Agenda summary: The roundtable will discuss the Overview of “Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure Element” (page 86 of the current Comprehensive Plan document) with particularfocus on the Alternative Energy subsection under Infrastructure (page 90 of the current Comprehensive Plan document).
September 14, 2021 — Jefferson County Planning Commission meeting. Agenda included action on the County Commissions request to amend the Comprehensive Plan.
Summary: The Planning Commission discussed the process to amend the Comprehensive Plan according to WV Statute 8-A-3-11, which specified a public hearing within 120 days of the request. The commission voted to set the following schedule for meetings on the topic: September 28 for a public roundtable session, October 5 to review the draft amendment prepared by the Planning and Zoning staff, and November 16 for a public hearing on the proposed amendment.
The Agenda included two items related to the solar text amendment:
- Item 13.1: Discussion of the August 16 court ruling & comprehensive plan
- Item 16: Discussion of potential amendment to the Comprehensive Plan to include provision for solar facilities
Summary: the Commission voted to ask the Planning Commission to begin the proces to amend the Comprehensive Plan to include provisions for solar facilities in the Rural and Residential Zones as quickly as possible.
August 31, 2021 — Jefferson County Planning Commission meeting. Agenda included a discussion of the August 16 court ruling. Summary: the Commisssion moved to executive session to receive legal advice, then requested its attorneys to proceed as discussed in executive session.
August 24, 2021 — Jefferson County Planning Commission meeting. Agenda included a discussion of the August 16 court ruling. Summary: meeting cancelled.
August 19, 2021 — Jefferson County Commission meeting. Agenda included a discussion of the August 16 court ruling. Summary: the Commission moved to executive session to dicuss the court rulling. No public information about the Commission’s next steps was provided.
August 16, 2021 — Judge Debra McLaughlin, in the Circuit Court of Jefferson County, issued a ruling that invalidated the text amendment ZTA 19-03 to the Jefferson County zoning ordinance. Prior to this amendment, utility-scale solar projects were not listed as a permitted use in any zoning district in Jefferson County, so with this court ruling, utility-scale solar facilities cannot be built in Jefferson County until the County Commission takes new action to amend its zoning ordinance. [READ MORE]
This page was updated on April 5, 2022.
Visit The Observer’s Solar Sightline story for related articles and resources about commercial-scale solar projects in Jefferson County, West Virginia.