York County says Silfab solar project has green light, despite call for zoning

York County says Silfab solar project has green light, despite call for zoning

Channel 9 reported on a back-and-forth battle over a solar panel manufacturer’s installation in York County, but it turns out a recent plea from neighbors doesn’t affect actually the solar panel company.

Silfab Solar is building a manufacturing site in Fort Mill and is expected to begin producing solar panels by the end of the year.

The site is in an area zoned “light industrial” and Silfab had contacted York County officials in 2022 to ask about zoning. Planning staff confirmed that solar panel manufacturing is permitted in the Light Industrial Zoning District and issued an official letter clarifying this on December 27, 2022.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE:

Silfab obtained permits from the Department of Health and Environmental Control, leased the site and submitted planning materials to the county throughout 2023.

According to York County, neighbors who live in the area began sending emails to planning staff regarding zoning issues in January 2024 and requested clarification on whether solar panel manufacturing was allowed.

Neighbors expressed concerns because the facility is within walking distance of two Fort Mill public schools. They have expressed concerns about the plant’s health impact, while the company says its production has no harmful effects on the local environment.

The zoning administrator said in February that solar panel manufacturing was permitted based on staff analysis, but there was no specific mention of Silfab.

Channel 9 reported that a resident appealed the zoning administrator’s decision in March, and the Zoning Board of Appeals heard the matter on May 9. The BZA overturned the zoning administrator’s decision, and Silfab told Channel 9 he plans to appeal.

CHECK IT OUT >> A first look at the controversial Fort Mill solar manufacturing plant

A press release published on June 25 indicates that this decision does not apply to Silfab.

“In many cases, zoning verification letters are issued months or years before a project begins. These developments cannot be jeopardized by subsequent requests for zoning interpretations from opponents of these projects,” the county said in its statement.

Silfab could still appeal the zoning board’s decision to clear the way for future projects in light industrial districts.

The county says Silfab received the necessary permits from DHEC to construct the solar panel installation.

Silfab sent Channel 9 the following statement Tuesday in response to the county’s update: “Silfab Solar is committed to increasing its manufacturing capacity in North America and is deeply invested in providing advanced technology domestic solar cells and panels. Silfab’s new facility in South Carolina will continue our innovation in solar panel and cell assembly.

The safety and well-being of our community and employees is paramount to Silfab Solar, and we are committed to being a…

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