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Letter — Negative impact of solar farms

To the Editor:

Rural means rural. People choose to live in rural areas for a reason, and it is the opposite of being in the midst of a commercial industrial project.

Agricultural means agricultural, not commercial or industrial. A “solar farm” may sound like it belongs in the countryside, but it doesn’t because it is an installation that encompasses many acres of agriculture-zoned area and is a gross misuse of a conditional use permit. The Randolph Project should never have passed muster at the planning and zoning level since it violates the Charlotte County Comprehensive Plan to preserve and protect rural culture.

Solar panels are made in China where manufacturing methods bear no resemblance to stringent manufacturing integrity. Long term use of the panels could cause leaching into the soil beneath and ruin the land for decades. The Randolph Project is in close proximity to a vital river; part of which is designated as scenic. This project could violate that designation.

Catastrophic events may cause damage to solar panels. What happens if the company walks away or declares bankruptcy? The Randolph area floods frequently. How likely are compounds in the panels to contaminate runoff or reach the water table? Solar farms wipe out wildlife habitat which is another loss for Charlotte County! Are wetlands being disturbed? Will there be mitigation? How long will it take buffers to fill in and block the view of the panels?

Are setbacks to the benefit of the landowners or those negatively impacted by the intrusive structures? Adjoining landowners opposed can’t just uproot and move. This is their home and their life is being altered by greedy landowners, most of whom do not live within the project area. Will there be maintenance on the fence lines and bare spaces visible from roads? A nearby county is a prime example of poor maintenance practices visible from a major thoroughfare. Will Charlotte County landowners be more respectful and vigilant?

No other county in Virginia has allowed such massive projects. Neither has any jurisdiction in the country except in desert lands in the western US. Why is that? Those with common sense know that an industrial facility as large as the Randolph Project, affecting 21,000 acres of farmland and woodland, is not a viable use of Charlotte County’s rural agricultural zoned land, and will directly have a negative impact 400 area households. It will stigmatize the entire county’s heritage tourism, property values and rural way of life.

I urge the board of supervisors to increase the buffers and setbacks to reasonable limits as proposed by a group of concerned residents and to place a moratorium on any further projects until more benefit/detriment assessments can be made on current projects approved to date. Citizens of Charlotte County, please rally around your neighbors and help them fight this industrial infringement our leaders have allowed to happen. Attend the board of supervisors meeting at 1:30 p.m. on Sept. 13 and voice your support that setbacks be increased to reasonable limits as proposed in motion passed at August board of supervisors’ meeting.

Sue Adams

Red Oak