This letter to the editor requires a Reality check

Aug 7, 2021, Ledger Independent

Let’s review the claims made by Ms. Berry. 

Berry’s Claim: Taxpayers are getting no opportunity to how best regulate solar.  REALITY: Solar zoning first appeared on the Planning Commission’s agenda in May 2019. The late Judge Pfeffer had scheduled a public focus group for Feb 1, before his tragic death. That focus group was eventually held on March 22, 2021. Holding an official solar zoning public meeting now is the best way for the public to comment on this topic. A one-year moratorium does not allow the public to comment.

Berry’s Claim: Why the rush”  REALITY: both the landowners and the community need to replace income lost from tobacco and dairy. The sod under solar will reduce topsoil loss and ag chemical pollution. All these solar benefits are needed NOW. Read more

Berry’s Claim: Solar panels are made of heavy toxic metals.   REALITY: Solar energy systems may contain small amounts of toxic materials, but these materials are stable and do not endanger public health. Read more

Berry’s Claim: Utility-scale solar installations, will displace thousands of acres of our finite rural landscape”.  REALITY: I favor Solar because it protects topsoil and our environment, while Ms. Berry seems to focus on landscape (dare I say her view) above all else.  Read more

Berry’s ClaimSolar will destabilize property values”.  REALITY: Comparative analysis shows solar facilities have no discernable impact on the property values of abutting or adjacent residential or agricultural properties. Read more

Berry’s Claim: Solar creates only a few permanent jobs for residents.   REALITY: Consider the 1350 acre Hillcrest Solar farm near Mt Orab, OH. The University of Illinois estimates $48 of labor is needed to grow each acre of corn or soybeans. If all 1350 acres were in crops, that land required $64,800 of labor. Hillcrest’s payroll for their announced five full-time and five part-time employees will certainly exceed $64,800. Read More

Berry’s ClaimSolar poses numerous financial liabilities for our municipal government coffers.  REALITY: Each acre of Solar increases our local tax district’s real estate property tax revenue by $100. Solar farms do not require natural gas, city water, landfill capacity, rail, river, or extensive roads. If we adopt sensible zoning regulations, a bond will be posted to pay for decommissioning before construction starts. Read more about tax increase Read more about decommissioning bond

Berry’s Claim: Solar generates significant water run-off. REALITYThe same amount of rain falls whether the ground is pasture, row crop, or solar. However, Solar will have stormwater control structures. These structures and the sod in and around Solar panels will reduce soil erosion and flash flood danger. Read more

Ms. Berry refers to our precious topsoil as “the factory floor of our food industry.” Most of us know that topsoil is our area’s most nonrenewable resource. Mason County’s ridges and side slopes need the protection of Solar’s sod, NOW! Read more

Although a one-year moratorium will serve Ms. Berry’s objective to stop all solar, it will not help Mason County recover from the economic loss of tobacco and dairy. A moratorium will not protect our topsoil from erosion or slow ag chemical pollution.

The Planning Commission has visited a solar farm and held several workshops. By now everyone who wants to investigate solar has already done so?   

Please join me in calling for the Planning commission to immediately:

  1. Publish their draft solar text amendment.
  2. Hold the public meeting where all Mason County citizens can comment on solar zoning
  3. Recommend a solar text amendment for the City and County government to adopt

Our county’s future requires a Solar decision NOW!

If solar is not allowed, landowners may be forced to follow Western Kentucky’s lead and consider confinement hogs and chickens as a way to replace dairy and tobacco.

Charles W(Bill) Marshall – Walnut Grove Farm – Washington KY