The plug has been pulled on plans for a solar farm at the former Mount Airy landfill on City View Drive.
This is due to the developer for the project being unable to secure funding for it, according to Jeff Boyles, public services director for Mount Airy.
The reason for that is linked to the depth of the floodplain at the site located in the vicinity of the Ararat River, where the city landfill operated until being closed about 30 years ago.
That depth is listed as about 5 feet on Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) maps. The former landfill is in a 100-year floodplain. A”100-year-flood” refers to flooding with a magnitude that has a 1 percent chance of occurring or being exceeded in any given year.
In the event of a major flood, the water level on the old landfill property would be expected to reach the 5-foot level, as explained by Boyles.
“It spooked the investors,” he said Thursday of the effect of that on the solar farm project.
The floodplain roadblock was encountered as developer Wayne Marshall explored the feasibility of the solar farm and exercised the usual due-diligence.
Marshall, co-owner of Petra Engineering PLLC, a Huntersville firm, had proposed developing a solar photovoltaic power plant which would have involved paying $125,000 for use of the city-owned land. The site totals 64 areas and he was proposing to occupy 31 acres that had been utilized for the landfill.
Mount Airy officials saw this as a productive use of property that has sat vacant since the 1980s.
Site’s Future Unclear
The demise of the solar farm plans represents the second setback regarding the City View Drive site since 2011.
It then was eyed for a proposed sports complex, but soil tests revealed the land would not be suitable for that purpose.
Boyles said the uses of such property are limited, and now that the solar facility won’t be constructed he is at a loss to suggest another entity that could utilize the site. “At this point, I don’t know of anything,” he said.
Since the municipality has a permit with the state designating it as a closed landfill, anyone eyeing a new use for the property must deal with a set of regulations.
“Regardless of what you do, you’re going to have to deal with that,” Boyles said.
Meanwhile, the old landfill remains a “maintenance burden” and must be bush-hogged each year, the public services director added.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.