FUD No 9 – Push Polling disguised as a referendum

Citizens Voice of Mason County Inc. is conducting a push poll (claiming to be a referendum) to introduce misleading statements into the ongoing discussion about how zoning of Utility-Scale Solar in Mason County. Below I will display CVoMC content in bold italic. Material that calls their content into question will be in normal font.

Since 2019, out of state developers have been working quietly in Maysville-Mason County to secure options on roughly 6,000 acres (or more) of farmland for industrial-scale solar facilities, while aggressively lobbying our local officials to allow this new kind of development under our local zoning ordinance—without public knowledge or input. 

Solar development companies have been contacting Mason County landowners since at least 2018. I know this because I was contacted and signed an option in 2018. Developers working quietly needs to be discussed on multiple levels.

  1. When a person wants to rent a home, few drive a sound truck up and down roads broadcasting their interest to one and all. Instead, they approach folks who own the property that interests them. The solar companies have done business in much the same way. Twenty dollars a month will purchase access to the Mason County PVA’s web-based map. With that access, anyone is able to check official records and learn who is the registered owner of each property. The solar companies have done what anyone would do, once they learned the owners name they have approached the owners of each plot they were interested in. Landownership is a long-term game and I am confident that each owner listens to any proposal dealing with their land. I assume they would do research and check with their legal council before much of anything more happened about a proposal. My whole family drove over a good portion of North and South Carolina in 2018 looking at utility-scale solar farms in the real world. We visited farms ranging from five years old to still under construction. My whole family saw nothing that troubled us. (Keep in mind if our option is exercised we will have solar farm panels on all 4 sides of our house. So yes we did consider the visual aspect of solar. We compared solar to cash grain where our top soil is washing away every year, and my wife and I are annually exposed to farm chemicals.) After we signed the company registered that option at the Mason County Clerk. I expect each company is doing the same, as this is how they can prevent the land from being optioned more than once. Registering these options hardly seems clandestine. I only dealt with one of the solar companies but since the “average” farmer went bankrupt long ago, I am confident that other landowners also were diligent in doing their homework before they signed options.
  2. The phrase “working quietly” bears investigation. In my options case, the solar company sent a letter on Jan 30, 2019, to Mason County Zoning to give notice of their interest in developing solar on our land. (see bottom of this page for a copy of the correspondence). So companies are recording options at the county clerk, having official correspondence to understand local zoning rules.
  3. Mr. Larger first put solar farm regulation on the agenda of a March 2019 Maysville-Mason County Planning Commission regular meeting. I fail to see how anyone can claim the process has been rushed. However, I agree that we need a public meeting to discuss solar. We need someone to draft solar regulations and then have public meetings to discuss and then need that hopefully appropriate text amendments included in our zoning ordinance.
  4. Solar developers have contacted local officials to introduce themselves and attempt to familiarise folks with how they hope to operate for everyone’s general benefit.
  5. If local officials and economic prospects can not meet and learn about each other Mason County has little hope for any economic or environmental health in the future.

A comprehensive and transparent public process is needed to fully understand industrial solar’s short term and long term costs to our community. This has not been done, and we therefore strongly oppose allowing industrial scale solar facilities in our agricultural zones in Mason-County.  

  • I fully support the need to understand the potential of utility-scale solar. However Solar first appeared on March 2019 Maysville-Mason County Planning Commission agenda. That means this topic has been on the public stage for over 2 years. We held a public focus group about solar in March of this year. If someone wanted to learn about the truth about Solar, they have had every opportunity. CVoMC seems to be trying to slow the zoning process, only as a way to delay not to actually attempt to determine appropriate zoning regulations.
  • If you have questions about utility-scale solar that this site does not answer please contact me at cwm@marshallsolar.com.

Industrial solar development is wrong for Maysville-Mason County, as it will destroy our beautiful and productive farmland; diminish our property values; damage our sensitive environmental resources; create significant tax payer liabilities for the decommissioning of solar facilities; generate few permanent jobs in our local economy; and undermine our cultural brand and special quality of life.

  • With the loss of Tobacco and Dairy income, the economics of the remaining rural enterprises are forcing more and more landowners to sell house lots either along road frontage or by subdividing their land. This shows current rural land uses are not protecting farmland but instead are forcing urbanization in areas with little to no infrastructure to support more homes. Utility-Scale Solar provides an economic basis to stop this urban-type development into rural areas.
  • Solar will increase revenue to local tax districts. Learn more at https://solarformasoncounty.com/how-everyone-in-mason-county-benefits-from-solar-2-2/
  • Any responsible solar zoning ordinance requires developers to post bonds to cover the expected net cost to decommission a site.
  • Our county lost two pillars of our agricultural economy. Denial is not a viable strategy to replace their cash flow. Solar can increase property values and help support local tax districts. If we reject solar how will we support our community’s economic health?

  • Solar does not damage our environment, instead, it
    • removes harmful agricultural chemicals from our watersheds
    • provides habitat for pollinators
    • controls stormwater runoff
    • solar panels have been compared to grape arbors in a vineyard.
    • and the list goes on …
  • 6000 acres (less than 4% of Mason County farmland) will generate more jobs than the current land uses and contribute $41,000,000 more local tax dollars over 30 years. See detailed explanation of calculations
  • Denial is not a viable strategy to cope with the loss of dairy and tobacco income and will not protect our cultural brand and special quality of life

For this reason, I hope you now understand the Citizens Voice of Mason County petition is full of misleading statements. Their petition is against WELL REGULATED solar. Signing their petition says you accept their strategy of denying the loss of tobacco and dairy while providing no long-term alternative way for agricultural land to help support our local tax districts.

Please make the effort to understand how WELL REGULATED utility-scale solar farms can help all of our futures.

Please DO NOT SIGN the Citizens Voice of Mason County petition.