CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WRIC) — Chesterfield’s solar rush is continuing as the Board of Supervisors voted to allow a 52-megawatt project to move ahead on the county’s southwestern edge.

The solar farm will have 437 total acres of panels scattered across 1,932 acres of forests and wetlands which limit the area on which panels can be built.

Layout of the proposed project. Adjacent residential plots are shown in red, with setback shown in yellow. Panels cannot be built within 35 feet of wetlands or on steep slopes. (Map courtesy of Chesterfield County)

The project will face several environmental restrictions, including provisions that limit construction around wetlands and Resource Protection Areas (RPAs) as well as on steep slopes with a grade of over 20 percent.

Chesterfield has contemplated stricter regulations on the construction of solar panels in recent months, citing runoff issues with a Dominion-led project in Louisa County. Dominion supported those changes, which may soon come before the board at their August meeting.

Staying Rural

According to county records of a community meeting held ahead of the zoning approval, “Three neighbors and the property owner spoke in support of the request. The neighbors noted that the use will help to maintain the rural character of the area.”

Skyler Zunk, a lifelong resident of the area, spoke in support of the project at the board meeting.

“We think this is a great thing for our corner of Chesterfield,” he said.

The portions of the property not cleared to install solar panels will still be used for forestry, with representatives of Sun Tribe Solar saying the extra income from solar generation will allow the family that owns the land to retain the underlying land.

The company has previously worked with Henrico County to install rooftop solar panels on several county buildings – a move that ultimately saved the county millions in energy costs.

And in forty years, once the facility has outlived its operational lifetime, the owner will be required to implement a “decommissioning plan” that requires the land to be restored to its “natural condition.”