Letter – Applauds solar farm approval
Published 5:00 pm Tuesday, October 24, 2023
Editor, The Smithfield Times:
After the Isle of Wight Board of Supervisors approved the conditional use permit for the Carver Solar project in August, numerous letters to the editor made false and misleading claims about financial motivations of the board.
In fact, the voluntary payment, which will fund infrastructure and investments in the county and help keep residents’ taxes from increasing, was just one of several factors board members considered between the time they tabled the matter in February and when they issued their final decision in August.
During those six months, the applicant continued to meet with the community and continued to make changes to the design of the project. Many of these changes to the design were reflected in the revised site plan produced leading up to the August meeting, particularly much larger setbacks from neighboring properties and significant increases in vegetation to be planted surrounding the project, hiding it from view. Near the intersection of Yellow Hammer Road and Deerfield Drive, the setback between the road and the project fence line was increased to more than 300 feet, and the vegetative screening that will be planted was increased from two to six rows of trees.
The remaining concerns were addressed in the form of permit conditions, including a soil monitoring and restoration program backed up by a bond, regular litter removal along Route 460 and a requirement not to use pesticides. The land that hosts the solar panels will remain fertile because of deep-rooted native grasses that will be planted.
Our supervisors conducted careful due diligence and made an informed decision to approve a project that is well-designed, safe, appropriately screened and set back from neighbors. The board considered its constituents as a whole and did not bend to a vocal minority of opposition, many of whom live miles from the site.
I feel that our supervisors acted in good faith and acted, in part, on the premise that property rights still matter in our county. The land where the solar panels will be installed has been owned by Isle of Wight County residents for generations.
All over the county, younger generations are subdividing and selling their farmland because farm leases barely cover their property taxes. Meanwhile, the solar project will keep the land intact for generations to come.
Gayle M Hobbs