ELIZABETHTOWN — Despite the fact that the Bladen County Board of Commissioners has no authoritative power over how the town of Elizabethtown handles matters with its extra-territorial jurisdiction, concerned community members and interested investors asked the commissioners on Monday to step in with concern to a proposed solar farm.
According to Walter Campbell, the solar farm is being proposed for property along M&M Street — between Peanut Plant Road and MLK Boulevard in an area known as Newtown.
The Elizabethtown Town Council has already acted on the solar farm proposal, voting not to take the property in question out of the ETJ.
“We are asking the county to request that the town of Elizabethtown reconsider its decision,” Walter Campbell said.
According to the potential lease of the property, investors have agreed to pay $20,000 per year for the life of a 40-year lease — money which would be used for community upgrades and necessary repairs.
But several community members present were against the solar farm proposal, saying there hadn’t been enough research done and that solar farms potentially cause health problems, toxins in the aquifers and are a hazard to children playing in the area.
“We don’t want out people getting sick or children getting hurt — and we don’t want another Flint, Mich.,” said Jerry Martin, a resident in the area.
When the issue went to the board, Commissioner Ashley Trivette made a motion to send a letter to the town of Elizabethtown requesting the Town Council reconsider the issue and Commissioner Ray Britt seconded it.
“This is just my opinion, but I think it’s a solar farm is a good thing for the county,” Chairman Charles Ray Britt said. “It will put $800,000 into a fund to better the community there — if someone needs to replace a damaged roof, it can be used for that, for instance — and it would also mean $12,000 in county taxes.”
The board voted 8-1 in favor, with Commissioner Ophelia Munn-Goins voting not to send the letter.
In other action Monday, the board:
— Recognized seven employees for their years of service. They were Dawn Edwards with DSS, five years; Crystal Slater with DSS, 10 years; Sandra Rich with DSS, 25 years; Gina Ward with the Board of Elections, five years; Greg Elkins with the Planning Board, 20 years; Cynthia Dowless with the Bladen County Public Library, 30 years; and Shonteia Keaton with Human Resources, five years.
— Heard from Shonita Hayes, the Bladen County 4-H youth delegate to the NCACC Annual Conference, who spoke about the summer youth projects for 4-H.
— Approved a fee increase for the Parvo vaccine at the Bladen County Animal Shelter, from $15 to $20.
— Approved a one-year agreement between Bladen County Health Department and the Robeson County Health Department to loan Robeson County a nutritionist one day per week. Bladen County will receive a fee for the service.
— Scheduled a special meeting for Monday, Aug. 7, at 5 p.m. at the county’s new Law Enforcement/Detention Center for a tour of the facility.
— Heard the Bladen County Girls 12U Softball All-State Team finished third in the state.
The next meeting of the county commissioners will be Monday, Aug. 7, at 6:30 p.m.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.