Tensions were high at the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners meeting Monday night as county residents fought against the construction of a solar farm near their neighborhood. The auditorium at the Citizens Center was packed with residents from the SailView neighborhood and others near the proposed property.
For the past three months, Strata Solar has been working toward obtaining property along Webbs Chapel Road in Denver to construct a 36-acre solar farm, consisting of 26,000 panels. The hearing was originally postponed during the November meeting after SailView residents stated they were meeting with the Board of Adjustments later that month to appeal the project.
The appeal was dismissed after being determined untimely, with the Board of Adjustments stating that an appeal should have happened 30 days after the initial hearing in September.
Former county commissioner George Arena argued that Strata Solar’s most recent proposal regarding a map of the screening of the solar farm was not given to opponents prior to the meeting.
“This proposal is brand new tonight,” Arena said. “I’m glad to see they responded, but it would have been prudent for them to have done so before tonight’s meeting.”
Residents alleged the project would violate what current county ordinances mandate and cause property values to significantly depreciate. Claims were made that such an addition to the community would be disharmonious with the residential district. The residents testified as self-proclaimed experts, with background in county work, electrical work or consulting.
“Barbed wire fencing and a chain-link fences fit the description of a prison and not a residential community,” SailView resident Timothy Mooney said. “Have you ever heard of an entire group of residents that had to drive through a solar farm to get home? I haven’t, because it doesn’t exist.”
Several opponents testified that while they are supporters of renewable energy and solar farms, they couldn’t support a solar farm in such a densely populated residential area.
“We have sympathy for the applicant, but the real concern here is this is such a densely populated area, and these significantly priced homes are going to be impacted,” Arena said.
Solar farm supporter Lloyd Dellinger implored the SailView residents to be better stewards of Lake Norman.
“We are but stewards of this earth, and I don’t think it’s a big deal to put a little solar farm out there,” Dellinger said. “I’ve never seen such greed. Y’all are destroying the very things you want to protect.”
At the conclusion of the six-and-a-half hour hearing, the Planning Board asked the County Board of Commissioners for more time to make their decision, given the lengthy amount of testimony heard that night. The Planning Board is scheduled to meet next Monday at 6:30 p.m. at the Citizens Center to further discuss the future of the Webbs Road property. While the session is open to the public, no public comments will be heard.