The Council needs to hear from you again before they vote. Please take two minutes to email them, and thanks!
Fact: Residents in the Reserve can put solar on their roof the same way someone down county can. Currently, farms in the Reserve are allowed to have solar arrays that meet 120% of their needs and a number of farms do. All members of the ZTA work group agree that this accessory use on farms needs to be increased to 200%.
Claim: Just 2% of the Ag Reserve will be impacted
Fact: While this ZTA is only 1800 acres, there is no provision that would keep this cap in place. ZTA sponsor Councilmember Riemer has said anywhere between 13,000-18,000 acres is the amount of ground mounted solar being sought on open space and rural lands in the county. Moreover the industry has stated, as recently as the work sessions that the only place they can put it is on farmland in the county for reasons that we cannot fathom. Councilmember Riemer in the PHED/T+E Committee meeting on the ZTA on 7/22/20 said "Far from talking about scaling back this proposal, we should be talking about where are we going to get the other 15,000 acres of ground-mounted solar or rooftop-mounted solar or other solar? Where are we going to get it from? What is the timeline to get that?” (minute 11 here)
The provisions of the ZTA allow siting on productive class 2 and 3 soils and protect forests on a site by site basis - allowing clearcutting. With solar companies offering landowners 10-25 times what farmers pay per acre this provision will have impacts over the entire Reserve. Full fact sheet here.
Claim: Council President Hucker has met with stakeholders.
Fact: In advance of the workgroup, a stakeholder meeting with Mr. Hucker was cut short as he sited the many challenges that the Council is up against with the pandemic and financial crisis. Now that the work group has finished, stakeholders have reached out again only to be rebuffed. While the work of the Council has surely increased dramatically in these unprecedented times - this ZTA is still speeding toward a vote. If there is enough time to consider sweeping land use changes to 1/3rd of the county, there must be enough time to meet with deeply concerned stakeholders impacted by these changes.
The Ag Reserve Stakeholders group has found a path forward for solar to be responsibly sited in the Reserve by allowing solar as a conditional use. Along with the many civic organizations, environmentalists and farmers that support this path forward, we are seeking a compromise that meets our climate challenge and protects natural resources. Without a shared set of facts, this compromise will prove difficult.