Documenter name: Natalie McLendon
Agency holding meeting: Calcasieu Parish Planning and Zoning Board
Date: Monday, November 15, 2022 at 5:30 PM
The Planning and Zoning Board amended and adopted a Solar Energy Facilities Ordinance.
There were four board members absent, and there were close to ten members of the public in attendance.
This Board provides recommendations on planning and zoning to the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury.
Community Perspective / The Debate
There were no comments from the community, but interested businesses provided insight on how to best proceed with the solar ordinance.
- 3439 Luke Powers Road in Ward 3 – Variance to allow second dwelling that will be used by the applicant’s mother. The variance was approved.
- 7690 and 7696 Nine Oaks Drive in Ward 3 – Variance to decrease the side yard setback requirement on two (2) lots (required five (5) feet; requesting two (2) feet). The variance was approved. The property is in south Lake Charles.
- 4375 Navajo Trail in Ward 5 – variance to allow a second dwelling with less than required public road frontage. Variance granted.
- 271 High Hope Road in Ward Six – an exception to allow residential development. This property is north of Sulphur. The manufactured home will be temporary while the applicant builds a permanent home. Variance granted.
Solar facility ordinance
The board moved to approve a Solar Energy Facilities Ordinance. If approved by the Police Jury, the ordinance would provide regulations by which any energy company may establish a solar farm in Calcasieu Parish. They have received several requests for comment about the language of the ordinance. A North Carolina solar company made a comment, and representatives from a Florida based company also attended. Mr. Porche has comments but will reserve them for after public comment.
Tyler Kerry, representative of Carolina Solar Energy, says his North Carolina based company recently set their sights on the Gulf Coast. There will be over a billion dollars in capital investment.
- Kerry suggested a change to allow for panels to be placed at least one foot above flood elevation. Part of the reason is there are numerous substations that exist in 100 year flood plains in Calcasieu Parish. There will be projects that will be unable to connect with the facility with the elevation requirement as it is now.
- Built in exception to talk with landowners to sign exemption on natural buffers.
- In Sweetlake, the panel was max height 10 feet. The maximum height is 25 feet in the solar ordinance. Porche says it is easier to hide solar panels at 10 feet than at 25 feet. Doesn’t know where 25 ft came from and it may have been a standard to give some flexibility, but it can be reduced. It doesn’t prohibit a company from coming in to request a variance.
- Lighting – there are current standards that are more objective. Porche wants a more objective measurement to meet the standard of dark sky compliant lights.
- Underground utilities – Sweetlake utilities were underground. The wording in this ordinance says reasonable attempts will be made to make utilities underground.
Chris Cothran of NextEra Energy Resources is based in Florida.
- NextEra Energy Resources has operating assets in 38 states. Regarding the wetlands, assets should be allowed to be in a 100 year flood plain. He wants to make sure that the project will follow and abide by any wetlands regulation or permitting as required by the Louisiana Corps of Engineers. For the landscape buffer, they recommend that it should be from the limits of disturbance or the project boundary. Especially in Calcasieu parish, there is a mix of types of property and the buffer should account for previous use of the property.
Stephanie Morales, solar developer in Louisiana
- Recommends that the study only be done if the solar farm would be in a flight path near an airport.
- Economic Impact Report: Recommend that applicants submit an economic impact study but let the applicant tailor the contents of that study so as not to provide nonpublic information.
Porche amends maximum height from 25 feet to 15 feet. The motion for the amended ordinance passed without further comment.
Next meeting will be Tuesday, December 13, 2022
Will the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury approve the Solar Energy Facilities Ordinance?