Proposed Approval of Freestanding Solar Array

Green Springs National Historic Landmark District » Proposed Approval of Freestanding Solar Array » Document List

The National Park Service proposes a determination of No Adverse Effect for and thus approval of a project planned and to be funded by the owners of a 91-acre farm in the Green Springs National Historic Landmark District: construction of a freestanding array of solar panels for home-consumption power. Shade from adjacent trees, and the lack of south-exposure roofs preclude mounting the array on existing buildings.

This plan is reviewed under the terms of the 1973, NPS-managed conservation easement for Sunny Banks (an older estate that once included the 91-acre farm), with the NPS following the Nat. Historic Preservation Act to reach the "in the opinion of" step required by the easement for evaluating proposals for new structures. This review is expedited per 36 CFR 800.3(g) to combine the steps of: Initiation of Consultation; Identification of Historic Properties; and Assessment of Adverse Effects.

For supporting documentation and photos, see "Site Plan & Illustrations" and "Section 106 Advisor's Archeological Assessment 2012," in Document List section this webpage.

The project entails installation of one structure supported on 11 posts, and one underground power-conduit extending to an adjacent, existing single-family home, and sited in a grassy area along a backyard fence of that home. The planned structure is an array of 70 solar panels, each colored black and measuring 40" by 77" inches and arranged in two adjoining rows. The array would measure 9' in height, 117' in length, and 12' in depth. Excavation to be: 11 postholes, each 7' deep x 2' diameter; and a right-angled trench that measures 2' deep x 1' wide x 150' long to carry a buried power-conduit from the array and along the fringe of the grounds into the adjacent house via its garage.

The home, garage, and landscaped/fenced grounds date to 1996: construction reviewed and approved by NPS under the terms of the easement. A new workshop/garage building connected to the house by a new covered walk, and an expansion of the parking area date to 2012, and were likewise constructed following NPS review.

To identify potential archeological resources during consideration of the construction proposals of 2012, the NPS' Section-106 advisor for archeology, Dr. Matthew Laird, had consulted the county's public tax-parcel GIS database and the Va. Dept. of Historic Resources' inventories, and prepared an archeological assessment of the property, concluding, "It is relatively unlikely that the study area includes significant archeological evidence of prehistoric activity." Maps and other records suggested that the area "consisted of unoccupied agricultural land" during historic periods. The construction and landscaping of the adjacent home and grounds in 1996 and again in 2012 limit further the likelihood of surviving archeological resources. Evaluating the solar-array proposal in 2016, the NPS' new 106-advisory for archeology, Dr. James Kendrick, concurred with Dr. Laird's 2012 assessment.

Although the archeological assessment indicates scant likelihood of encountering human remains or archeological resources during construction of the proposed solar-array, the NPS proposes as a precaution that the attached (Document List) Conditions Regarding Unanticipated Discoveries accompany a Determination of No Adverse Effect.

The NPS likewise proposes a finding of No Adverse Effect to cultural landscapes. The distances given below, the modest (9') height of the solar array, and its screening by woodlots; a downward-sloping site; and by the 1996/2012 house (itself not a structure contributing to the NHL District) preclude adverse visual effects to the 1885 Sunny Banks manor house (an NHL-District-contributing structure 1,300' to the west of the proposed array-site), the nearest roads (1,800' to the southwest and 720' to the north, respectively), Foster Creek Baptist Church (an NHL-District-contributing structure 1,800' feet to the southwest), and to adjacent properties.

Contact Information

Noel Harrison, Manager of Easements, 540-424-3200 x1020