Hamilton County seal

JASPER — The Hamilton County Board of County Commissioners approved a zoning change for Bienville Plantation as well as a permit change for a solar farm at last week’s meeting.

In the Aug. 8 meeting, Megan Carter with the Hamilton County Development Authority presented a request from Bienville Plantation through Westport Capital Partners LLC for a land use change from agricultural to mixed use.

The board unanimously approved the request.

The board also unanimously approved a permit allowing a solar farm to be constructed in an agriculture-zoned area. The solar facility will be constructed and ran by Innovative Solar, which hopes to sell the power generated to Duke Energy.

The solar farm is going to sit on approximately 223 acres.

Also during the meeting, Denise Shirey asked that the board close 24th Ave. in western Hamilton County to public traffic.

Shirey said both she and Dale Waters, who has pines planted at the end of the road and is the only other landowner on the road, have had issues with trespassers and trash being dumped on their land.

Shirey added that she has more than 20 tires and rims strewn about their road and property and that she has called the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office for help with people parking and camping overnight along the road.

The board agreed to move forward with the petition pending contact with Waters for verification that he supports the road closing as well.

Another resident, Betty Lamb, took issue with road grading on her property, asking for it to stop.

Interrupting commissioners’ attempts to offer possible solutions to the problem, Lamb said it stemmed for the road being widened by the county.

Josh Smith, chairman of the board, said it was a safety issue with the road not wide enough for two cars to pass.

“It is our duty to provide a safe means of travel for residents of Hamilton County,” Smith said.

Lamb responded again with a request to stop the grading on her side of the road because it affects her property.

The board and Lamb came to an agreement to have Commissioner Randy Ogburn and County Coordinator Louie Goodin meet with Lamb and the grader operator to discuss the situation.

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