Councilors last month approved a plan to put a 4,000-panel solar farm on empty land off Glenwood Avenue just north of I-440. Once installed, it could provide enough energy to power 100 homes.
Following several weeks of deliberation, Councilors agreed to permit J.T. Hobby & Son Inc. to turn the lot at 2100 Century Drive into a solar farm. But Hobby & Son representatives say it will be many years before solar panels appear on the property, due to some difficulties with the land.
For starters, the land is sandwiched between the often-flooding tributaries of Crabtree Creek and the exit ramp from I-440.
In addition, the land is unstable due to its use 50 years ago as the Old Crabtree Landfill. Use as solid-waste landfill has left pockets of decomposed matter that could cave under the weight of a solar array.
In order to avoid their entire project sinking into the ground, Hobby & Son must first build a massive solid ballast that runs the entire breadth of the lot. An advantage to this extra work is that this ballast will also serve as the anchoring point for the solar panels, making them far more resilient to heavy winds or floodwaters.
Stormwater runoff is another major concern, especially in the early stages of construction. Flood buffers and minor aqueducts will need to be built to help keep the ballast and panels from being ruined during their installation.
Hobby & Son representatives said construction may take 10 to 15 years.