York County zoning board reverses decision for controversial solar panel facility – Fox 46 Charlotte

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YORK, S.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — More than 300 Fort Mill neighbors packed the York County Government Center Thursday evening, and ended up hearing what they had yearned for during an hours-long meeting.

The York County Board of Zoning Appeals voted unanimously to reverse putting Silfab Solar under Light Industrial, citing a lack of clarity in the county code.

The much-anticipated meeting saw people taking up space in the main lobby and both overflow rooms. 

Of those residents, 50-plus let the Board of Zoning Appeals know they felt like the wrong determination was made in zoning the solar panel manufacturing company, for an industrial facility off U.S. 21. It was the only item on the agenda.  



“South Carolina is pretty big isn’t it, it’s got a lot of land,” said one Fort Mill neighbor. “So why in the world would you put it in our backyard?” 

That’s how hundreds more feel about the company taking root in their city and for some in their backyard. Many are concerned about the proximity to two under-construction schools on Gold Hill Road. 

The county’s zoning board members heard arguments about why the company should be rezoned to Heavy Industrial instead of Light Industrial. 

York County residents have been arguing against the arrival of Silfab Solar since last summer.

County zoning officials use a nationwide classification system to define zoning codes. 

“We find that there may not be a distinct-use category that is specifically called solar panel manufacturing,” said York County Zoning administrator Rachel Grothe. “So the exercise then becomes is it possible that solar panel manufacturing might fall under one of the other listed manufacture uses.” 

Neighbors say that may be the reason why the zoning was incorrectly determined. They argue the company is using certain harmful chemicals to produce the solar panels — and those chemicals could eventually affect the community’s health. In addition to the schools on the way, there are also several complexes nearby. 

“This has been my town since birth,” said 13-year-old Maria Meyer. “Those schools, my best friends, and their siblings should be going there, and out of concern for them and myself, I’m within the evacuation zone and it’s out of my safety. I want to be here.” 

“We’ve got 3,334 people online who have signed and said, ‘We don’t want this thing here. It’s dangerous,’” Denise Bach said. “And if they were to let this go ahead and proceed, we’re going to be setting a precedent in this county that every Light Industrial area will end up with a smokestack and dangerous chemicals coming out of there into the air and into the water.” 

The building Silfab is slated to move into is across from a Ross Dress for Less distribution center under the same zoning. 

On the company’s website, it states that cell manufacturing not dangerous, while also touring the “tremendous economic impact” the site will have on residents, businesses, and public services.

The meeting lasted four hours, and after three, a vote was taken to determine if the board should continue listening to comments.  

Members voted to stay.  

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