NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The land may be “trash,” but it could soon help Norfolk move towards its goal of reducing carbon emissions and even some energy bills.

The installation of more than 35 acres of solar panels is proposed for the former Campostella landfill near the City of Chesapeake line.

Washington, D.C.-based Community Power Group, LLC is behind the development. Last year they were awarded a bid to negotiate a long-term land lease with the city, which was looking for a “land use solution that has significant environmental benefits.”

The city estimates enough panels could be installed to power more than 9,000 homes a year.

A community meeting where input will be received is scheduled for Monday, March 20 at 6:30 p.m. at the Berkley Community Center Gym at 121 W. Liberty St. 

In a briefing last month, several Norfolk Planning Commission members expressed while they want to support the project, they need to have more questions answered before voting later this week.

The landfill just west of the Chesapeake city line off Berkley Ave. (Courtesy: City of Norfolk)

The landfill opened up in the 1940s on Norfolk’s south side and for nearly 50 years serviced as a home for the disposal of construction and demolition debris, according to city documents.

In the 1990s the roughly 117-acre site was closed and capped and the property has sat dormant ever since.

Solar farms have been popping up in several locations in Hampton Roads, such as Suffolk and Chesapeake. However this would be Norfolk’s first.

The Community Power Group (CPG) has experience building solar farms on former landfills, with locations in Maryland and Massachusetts.

In this case, CPG has applied for interconnection with Dominion Energy for a total of eight megawatts. Five megawatts would be reserved specifically for “community solar.” That will allow residents to subscribe to clean energy and save on their monthly bill, according to CPG. The remaining three megawatts will be sent directly into the power grid.

No digging can be done into the landfill due to environmental rules governing former landfills. The facility will contain fixed-tilt solar panels on ballasted racking.

In order to try and blend into the surrounding community, plans call for landscaping to occur along Berkley Avenue. On the farm itself, CPG wants to see native flowers.

Because of environmental regulations, the farm will include fixed-tilt solar panels on ballasted racking according to the Community Power Group. (Courtesy: Community Power Group)

“This may be the first pollinator friendly solar landfill in Virginia,” Robert Brennan, a planner with the city, said. “Which is a very exciting step for becoming a more sustainable, resilient and biophilic city.”

Kevin Murphy, chair of the planning commission, still had concerns about the aging fence at the property. He said there must be grantees the property will be upkept.

Kim Sudderth, vice-chair of the planning commission, pushed for the public meeting to try and answer more questions from concerned neighbors.

“I’m not sure if there is community support at this point, quite possibly the opposite,” Sudderth said at a meeting last month. At a previous meeting with the community, Sudderth said residents felt all their questions were not getting answered.

As of last month, the lease between CPG and the city was still being negotiated. It’s expected to have a period of 20 to 25 years with an unknown price.

The Planning Commission will consider the proposal at their Thursday meeting.

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