The Dover Planning Commission approved plans Feb. 16 for a 103-acre solar energy collection park to be located in the city’s Garrison Oak Technical Park on White Oak Road.

The Dover Planning Commission approved plans Feb. 16 for a 103-acre solar energy collection park to be located in the city’s Garrison Oak Technical Park on White Oak Road.

Last month the city’s Utility Committee approved lease and power generation agreements for the Dover Sun Park and city council is expected to lend final approval to the documents at its Monday, Feb. 22, meeting.

Delmarva Power and the Delaware Sustainable Energy Utility already have agreed to purchase power from the plant, as has the city’s own electric utility.

At the planning commission meeting, members examined the site plan for the project, which will accommodate 3,100 solar panels generating 10 megawatts of electricity — enough to power roughly 1,300 homes.

Other than the panels, little else is slated for construction on the site aside from an electric substation and a perimeter fence and access road.

According to the company that will construct the facility, LS Power, the Dover Sun Park will the be the largest of its kind in the region, yet it will operate almost completely unmanned.

Along with their approval of the site plan, the commission also signed off on a plan to plant 1,500 saplings in a field adjacent to the facility. Normally, builders are required to plant new trees on their sites, but the Sun Park needed to locate its reforestation area away from the solar panels, so the trees won’t end up blocking sunlight when they grow.

Gregg Moore, of the Becker Morgan Group engineering firm, said he, the city and LS Power officials have met to discuss the plans with neighbors in the Wild Meadows development, which borders the Garrison park to the north.

He said the residents were satisfied with the landscape buffering plans designed to separate the housing development from the Sun Park, and they’re happy the Garrison park’s first tenant will be quiet and unobtrusive.

Moore also assured the commission that the Sun Park has the endorsement of both the Delaware Department of Transportation and Dover Air Force Base, neither of which are concerned about light reflecting off of the solar panels and posing a danger to Route 1 motorists or jets overhead.

In other business…

• The commission also approved site plans for a new DART bus transfer station to be located on Water Street, between West and Queen streets.
In addition to 100 parking spaces, the stations will feature a bus lane and a shelter for those waiting for buses.

The new facility will replace a smaller transfer station located farther east on Water Street and will be paid for with stimulus funds.

In the future, plans call for a 30,000 square foot building on the site that will serve as a mass transit hub for the region and accommodate long-haul buses and taxis.

• The commission lent its endorsement to a proposed new ordinance that would establish procedures for providing better emergency services to parking lots that house campers and recreational vehicles during NASCAR race weekends.

City emergency services officials say they need parking lot owners to provide site plans showing how many vehicles will be parked on their property and where, in order to ensure quick and efficient fire and rescue response in the event of an emergency.

The ordinance would also require lot owners to adhere to certain vehicle spacing guidelines designed to prevent fires and provide adequate access roads capable of handling the load of a fire truck. It also would require lot owners who accommodate race weekend parkers to pay fees of between $25 and $150, based on how many vehicles they park.

Along with its recommendation to city council that it approve the ordinance, the planning commission suggested council explore whether the fees could be reduced or eliminated for non-profit lot owners.

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