Board approves plans for solar energy farm

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Despite neighbors’ objections, county commissioners approved plans Monday for a solar energy farm on 53 acres in western Rowan.
The board voted 4-1 for the proposal, with Commissioner Jon Barber dissenting.
Argand Energy Solutions requested a conditional use permit for the 5 megawatt system to built on land owned by William and Linda Kesler in the 1300 block of Redmon Road.
In addition to requirements already in the conditional use language, the developers agreed to plant more buffering along the perimeter of the project.
According to a memo prepared by Senior Planner Shane Stewart, the site is surrounded by active farmland, homes on large lots and the RDH Tire plant.
Only a few homes would have clear views of the solar panels, with a few more having marginal views, he wrote. But one neighbor said she didn’t want to see them at all.
Gerald Brown said she and her husband Paul live across the road from the site.
“We don’t want to look at this the rest of our lives,” the 73-year-old Brown told commissioners. “Please don’t do this to us.”
Charles Floyd also lives on Redmon Road. His wife owns a farm and put a conservation easement on it, as did the owner of a neighboring farm, he said.
He said solar energy farms should only be built in industrial areas.
“This is not an industrial area. This is a rural area,” he said. “And putting a solar field in this area is totally inappropriate.”
County officials have established rural areas as appropriate for solar energy farms, but Barber said three previous projects had no opposition. He moved to table the Redmon Road request for 30 days “to better understand the opposition,” but the motion died without a second.
Board Vice Chairman Craig Pierce acknowledged residents don’t want such structures built where they can see them, but he said the property owner’s rights must also be taken into consideration.
He added that solar power is “the wave of the future” and said instead of farming crops, there’s growing demand for farming the sun’s energy.