ROWLAND — The Rowland Board of Commissioners, fighting to keep a solar farm from being established near the town, on Tuesday talked about ways to control development just beyond the town limits.
The commissioners discussed — but didn’t take action on — establishing an extraterritorial jurisdiction, which would give it more control over what can be located within a mile of the town.
“It doesn’t include taxes or annexation,” Commissioner Marvin Shooter said. “All it does is allow a municipality to have planning and zoning abilities one mile outside of city limits.”
Mayor Elizabeth Hunt said extraterritorial jurisdiction — commonly called an ETJ — could have helped the town in its effort to stop the solar farm. Hunt on Monday lobbied the county Planning Board to deny a conditional-use permit that Carolina Solar Energy, a Durham company, needs to install 26,000 solar panels on 45 acres of a 64-acre tract of land just outside Rowland.
The Planning Board approved the permit, but the final decision is with the county Board of Commissioners.
“I think that’s one thing that made it easy for them to come to Rowland and to the site,” Hunt said. “It’s because we did not have that in place.”
Town Clerk Blake Proctor said that “it was too late” for extraterritorial jurisdiction to stop the solar farm, but that it could be helpful in the future.
“What this solar farm has done is energized, I think, the commission into revisiting the extraterritorial jurisdiction for down the road,” he said. “This is not the solution for this problem but it could be the solution for later problems.”
The commissioners will continue to discuss extraterritorial jurisdiction at a meeting on March 27 that Town Attorney Rob Price is expected to attend.
During the public-comment portion of the meeting, one resident, Lolita Watson, spoke against the solar farm locating near the town.
Also during the public-comment period, the commissioners heard from Kay Turner, who thought that the $15 fee she had to pay for the animal shelter to feed her dog once a day was too high. Turner’s pet had been caught in her neighbor’s trap, taken to the shelter and kept there for a day. The council agreed to reduce the fee to $7 a day.
In other action, the board:
— Approved showcase fire trucks from the Rowland Rural Fire Department to participate in the Welcome Center’s Tourist Appreciation Day on May 10, and distributing brochures to motels along Interstate 95 that promote Rowland.
— Approved spending between $270 and $300 for a catered buffet for the Robeson County Municipal Association dinner in March, which the town board will host.
— Received a summary of the budget for February.
— Heard departmental reports from Proctor and Police Chief John Reaves.