Solar arrays planned for land

Submitted PhotoA photograph used during the Valdosta-Lowndes Development Authority meeting Tuesday of the sold land's proposed lay out. 

VALDOSTA — The Valdosta-Lowndes County Development Authority voted Tuesday to approve the sale of 27.42 acres for $137,100 to be used for solar arrays.

The property is located behind the Erco World Wide on 700 Hunt Road and the Perimeter East Business Park.

The company looking to purchase the property, SolAmerica, reached out to the VLDA’s staff a couple of months ago with interest in the property, said Andrea Schruijer, Development Authority executive director.

The company is wanting to put a solar array on the property that would generate three megawatts of power, she said. The project currently represents more than $1 million in capital investments.

The property has been on the authority's books for more than 20 years but has not been accessible due to land owners on all sides of the property, she said.

Although the authority approved to sell the property for $137,100, or $5,000 per acre, it was appraised for $120,000, or $4,300 per acre. So, the authority would be selling the property slightly above fair-market value.

Although the authority has approved the sale of the property, SolAmerica is in the middle of the bidding process with Georgia Power, Schruijer said. Because of this, there will be a year of due diligence for SolAmerica to work through the bidding with Georgia Power.

Then, there will be an additional 24 months where if the solar array has not been constructed, the authority can repurchase the property from SolAmerica, she said.

“We are not in the business of just selling property to just sell property,” Schruijer said. “We’re actually in the business of creating capital investment and jobs, and with this we are actually doing, is taking a piece of property that has … not been on the tax roll — it’s going to be put back on the tax at a higher value.”

Before the vote, authority member Mary Gooding spoke out about selling the property and the positive impact it will have on the community.

“I just think it's an excellent use of some land that, unfortunately, was not very usable for anything that required a lot of ingress and egress,” Gooding said. “We have a neighbor here who is willing to allow the access that is necessary, and we can take a piece of property that was of very little use or promise and put it to good — very green, good use. And we’re excited Georgia Power is doing this as well. And we are thrilled to help our community, and our partner Georgia Power as well. It’s all good news. It’s a win-win for everyone all the way around.”

The VLDA meets 5:30 p.m., the third Tuesday of every month, at 103 Roosevelt Drive. The meetings are open to the public. The next meeting will be held in December. 

Jason Smith is a reporter at The Valdosta Daily Times. He can be contacted at 229-244-3400 ext.1257.

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