The Greensboro City Council and city staff were blindsided by the planned 880-acre solar farm just outside the city limits off McConnell Road.
The proposed solar farm comes before the Guilford County Planning Commission on Monday, June 21 for a hearing on a special-use permit, which the city plans to oppose. But according to some familiar with the process, opposition this late in the process may be too little too late.
At the meeting on Tuesday, June 15, at the urging of Mayor Nancy Vaughan, the City Council unanimously passed a resolution opposing the special-use permit to allow the solar farm to be built on what the City Council considers prime land for either industrial or residential development, which would be annexed into Greensboro.
Vaughan said, “This shows that we really need to coordinate with Guilford County and reach out to our counterparts in the county to see how we can partner together to make some of these decisions.”
Vaughan added, “We need to be proactive to make sure something like this doesn’t happen in the future.”
According to Councilmember Justin Outling this 880-acre tract had been identified by a study done for the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce as a prime site for industrial development. He said that one of Greensboro’s issues discussed by economic developers was a lack of large sites with water and sewer, which made this site even more desirable for industrial development.
In 2015, Greensboro joined with Guilford County, High Point, the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce and the High Point Economic Development Alliance to form the Guilford County Economic Development Alliance (GCEDA) to collaborate on economic development countywide.
Guilford County approving a development of almost 1,000 acres that already has Greensboro water and sewer for a project that will produce almost no jobs is the kind of development one would expect to be considered at these meetings.
However, Outling, who is a member of the GCEDA leadership group, said that this proposed solar farm had not been discussed at those meetings.