What is it fair to expect from your neighbor

The Stop-Solar speeches, included below, make several demands.

The first speech suggests that we should stop local solar farms to protect our neighbor’s ability to subdivide their land into house lots. With this request, the Stop-Solar folks demonstrate at least some of them are not trying to protect the “bucolic” landscape or future ability to grow food, but instead want to maximize their profits when/if they destroy farmland to “plant” houses.

  • On page 53 the comprehensive plan states
    • Mason County’s number one problem area is
      • Inadequate sewage disposal in the rural areas of the County leading to
        pollution problems and possible health concerns. Steps should be taken to
        see that future concentrated development is not dependent upon septic
        tank systems for sewage disposal.
      • Compared to houses Solar farms require no septic tank systems
    • the eighth problem area is
      • Inadequate protection of watersheds. Development is taking place without adequate attention being paid to drainage and soil erosion.
      • The PUC State siting board required approval of detailed stormwater control systems.
    • the tenth problem area is
      • Inadequate infrastructure in rural areas to meet the needs of more intensive development. Much of the County has roads that are too narrow for heavy traffic, waterlines that are too small for domestic use or fire flow, and septic tanks that do not function well.
      • Solar Farms do not need city water, natural gas, sewers, land fill capacity, and during the expected 30 year operation phase make little demand on the road network.
    • the thirteenth problem area
      • The lack of sufficient local governmental resources (money, staff, etc.) in meeting increasing demands for services. It is anticipated that both the City and the unincorporated portions of the County will continue to experience growth and development. With most of the economy/revenues concentrated in the City, it will be increasingly difficult for the County to provide an adequate level of services without new revenues.
      • 6,000 acres of Solar will over 30 years increase the real property tax revenue of local tax districts by $14,000,000. This while making little demand for additional services.
  • On page 49 the Comprehensive plan states this goal for
      • To support the development of a broad-based economic system that leads to improvements in quality of life by providing enhanced employment opportunities, a diversity of goods and services, and a strong revenue base.
      • Solar will
        • broaden the local economic base by increasing cash flow to replace lost tobacco and dairy income.
        • Require more and better paid labor than current activities on same acreage
      • To provide the people of Maysville and Mason County with an adequate level of community facilities and services to meet their basic needs and enhance their quality of life
      • Solar will make few demands on public services but 6,000 acres will over 30 years contribute $14 Million in local tax district revenue than if land uses remain unchanged over 30 years.
  • Page 65 of the comprehensive plan states these ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PRINCIPLES
    • Place emphasis on basic economic activities
      • those that bring new money into the community from outside. These activities will in turn have a multiplier effect on the local economy, generating additional non-basic or supporting activities (restaurants, grocery stores, etc.).
      • Solar will bring large amounts of new money into the county over a long period
    • Look for expansion opportunities.
      • Identify and encourage those entities that are considering an expansion to their operation and provide appropriate assistance.
      • Solar has substantial potential to expand up to the capacity of long distance electrical transmission line in the area.

Page 27 of the current land use management ordinance states the objective of Agricultural (A-2 ) as: The A-2 districts have been established to preserve and protect the decreasing supply of prime agricultural land and to minimize urban-type development into rural areas until utilities and other municipal services can be provided efficiently.

Solar’s cash flow will keep its land under sod for the duration of its lease and well-regulated solar will have bonds posted to cover its restoration back to farm tillable land. On the other hand, land converted to housing lots is much more expensive if not impossible to return to food production.

All of these points demonstrate why a solar installation is much more in line with the comprehensive plan than subdividing land into house lots.

I understand the Stop-Solar folks want a property value guarantee to make them whole if our actions reduce their real estate property values. We might consider that if they will also provide the same guarantee if their actions block our ability to lease to solar and ther by reduce the real estate property value of folks who have optioned land to solar. Adopting the income valuation method and the 7% capital rate used by the KY Department of Revenue land on land optioned at $650 / year /acre means when a lease is activated, a solar farm will be worth $9,285 / acre. Since this is significantly higher than the current market value, it seem fair for the Citizen Voice of Mason County Inc Stop-Solar folks make up our loss if they successfully use zoning regulations to block solar. (As they used a 1 mile set back to block wind energy.)

The second speaker, on the video below, makes an even more troubling claim for neighborly rights. He tells us that a gunsmith near the Mt Orab Hillcrest solar farm can no longer test firearms because the solar panels are in his line of fire. The speaker then goes on to say if the setbacks were 500 feet he could again test file weapons.

In both my military and civilian life I have always been taught to only fire toward a know backstop. The idea that a “trained gunsmith” thought it was OK to fire across a neighbors land is truly appalling. I hope we can all agree that any landowner should be able to trust that neighbors are NOT firing live rounds across their property. It makes no difference if a land owner wants to simply walk across their property, have livestock grazing or have solar panels. It is not OK to be shot at from you neighbors property.

22 rounds

Unless the gunsmith in question works only on BB guns, the idea that a 500 foot setback would solve the problem is ridiculous. Wikipedia tells us that even after flying 400 yards (1200 ft or 370 m), a 22 bullet is still traveling at about 500 ft/s (150 m/s). A 22 LR bullet is capable of traveling 2,000 yards (6,600 ft or 1,800 m), which is more than 1 mile (1.6 km). Since a 22 Long Rifle is the smallest commonly available gun, larger caliber rounds will go even farther. My point being, this is simply another Stop-Solar attempt to generate F(ear) U(ncertainty) and D(oubt). Like most of these attempts it does not bear close examination.

For all these reasons solar is an excellent land use of A1 and A2 zones, if you want to preserve our priceless topsoil and environment.

Stop-Solar speeches at Public Hearing

Complete YouTube recording of Nov 18, 2021, public meeting