Letter – More overreach by the county

Published 4:44 pm Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

The Smithfield Times’ Jan. 4 article “IW eyes limit on solar acreage” is just another of the Community Development-related articles over the past year mostly addressing controversies with developers/private property owners due to delays in reviews of plans and modifications, not to mention others such as meddling with the height of trees to be planted by developers. Now county officials are concerned with solar farms.

Other programs over which they have responsibility appear arbitrarily managed such as the Chesapeake Bay regulations, among others. Private farmlands are to be used by the owners to promote their agricultural productivity and financial security. If the idle land can generate green energy from solar farms while concomitantly reducing climate change gas emission, what is the issue since there is not environmental degradation of the soils or a present scarcity of acreage for food production?

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Farmers are already regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and taxed by the county. What about regulating the installation of residential solar panels when trees in protected shorelines whose shade block solar radiation from reaching the panels are cut down? Is there a remediation policy to prevent or compensate for this?

Community Development (includes building and safety and inspections, Planning and Zoning, Historic and Architectural Review, agricultural and forestal Districts, Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area regulations, Wetlands Board and floodplain management) is a barrier to the county’s orderly economic growth and in possible conflict with other county agencies’ responsibilities  (such as economic development, tourism and stormwater).

Should agricultural and forestal Districts go to economic development to promote farm and energy production to the world? Historic and Architectural review to Tourism to attract visitors? And the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area regulations, Wetlands Board and floodplain management placed under stormwater? After all, these are all related to water.

Time is overdue to review the present county organizational structure to reduce bureaucratic overreach.


Jose E Hernandez