Bigs Ford Solar

Whitmore/Biggs Ford Solar Center is proposed for a 151-acre area on a farm at Biggs Ford and Dublin roads near Walkersville.

After about a dozen Walkersville residents spoke at a public hearing Wednesday night, the Frederick County Planning Commission unanimously recommended the denial for rezoning about 151 acres of agricultural land for a $17.2 million solar energy site.

The Whitmore/Biggs Ford Solar Center, proposed at the northwest corner of Biggs Ford and Dublin roads in Walkersville, was presented to the commission by Ryan Gilchrist, a Coronal Energy project developer, and Noel Manalo, a land use attorney from Miles and Stockbridge.

In that presentation, they acknowledged that the proposal failed to meet multiple aspects of the county’s current solar ordinance — including the fact the property is composed of 100 percent prime farmland soils, and the project footprint exceeds the 10 percent threshold of tillable acreage.

That footprint is 96.7 acres out of 137.6 tillable acres, according to the proposal and the county planning staff’s presentation.

Manalo and Gilchrist, however, argued that the benefits of clean energy align with the state’s mission to create more green energy. In his presentation, Gilchrist said the project would create 100 to 150 construction jobs and generate $4.585 million in local tax revenue over the life of the project, or 35 years. It would also power 3,000 homes annually, he added.

But many Walkersville residents who spoke at Wednesday’s hearing expressed concerns that the solar project would decrease property values in the area, and they wanted to preserve the area’s agricultural land.

Michael Goldsmith, one of those residents, said that if that agricultural land is unused for crops or other similar uses for 35 years, it would be a loss for the county.

“I own a farm in Thurmont. I’ve got 32 acres,” Goldsmith said. “If I let that land sit for 10 years, it’s totally unusable ... the land being 35 years with solar panels on it, it’s just detrimental to the county and the soil.”

Bonnie Volovar argued that the Biggs Ford project sits on some of the “most fertile farmland” in the county, and will produce nothing over the lifetime of the project.

“Why not put these arrays on land not suitable for agriculture?” Volovar said. “I live directly behind that farm. My husband and I bought our property, partly because of the beauty of that pastoral scene. We love to watch the seasons and the crops changing.”

Mitch Brannen, son-in-law of the farm’s owner, Ralph Whitmore, told the commission the Whitmore family wants to farm the land once the solar panels run out of life.

Brannen added that Whitmore has been approached by developers several times about developing the land, which could put more stress on nearby roads and schools.

“My father-in-law is completely anti-growth,” Brannen said. “He has been approached at least three times in the last 20 years for this to be bought by speculators to put housing on it. ... And he’s denied them each time.”

Commissioners, right before they voted to deny the rezoning of the 151 acres, acknowledged that the ordinance was restrictive. Along with the denial, they unanimously approved a motion to recommend that the County Council review the county’s current solar ordinance.

“Right now, [the ordinance is] too limiting. And at the same time, not detailed enough ... everybody that talked tonight was right, including the applicant and the people here,” commission Chair Bob White said after the meeting. “It’s the right idea in the wrong place, and the council needs to find a way to resolve this.”

Gilchrist agreed that the solar ordinance should be reviewed, and said Coronal Energy representatives would be happy to help provide the solar industry’s opinion on it.

Coronal Energy will continue to develop throughout Maryland because of support from state officials, Gilchrist added.

“It’s going to open up opportunities all over the state,” he said of that support. “And I’m worried with the ordinance the way it is, that Frederick County is going to be left behind.”

Follow Steve Bohnel on Twitter:

@Steve_Bohnel.

Steve Bohnel is the county government reporter for the Frederick News-Post. He can be reached at sbohnel@newspost.com. He graduated from Temple University, with a journalism degree in May 2017, and is a die-hard Everton F.C. fan.

(61) comments

gary4books

It's great that you are able to live and work in FredCo (seriously) but the fact is, that is simply not an option for most people."

The line that I hate is "You get what you pay for."

Not always true.

But when you pay for roads and have no incentives for companies to move where their workers live or vice versa, you get traffic. You get traffic if you pay for traffic. Why not pay for people to live closer to work or work closer to home?
Utopia? OK. Why not.?

mrnatural1

gary,

I'll take a guess. It seems to me that for a variety of reasons certain areas of the country have been deemed desirable, by both corporations and people: NYC, Boston, Atlanta, D.C., etc.

Around here of course the draw is the federal gov't -- there are politicians to lobby; agencies to get contracts with; the Pentagon, etc.

In the 1960s, when I was a boy, the suburbs didn't extend much beyond Wheaton. There was no need for anyone to live very far from D.C. We had an ordinary split-level house near River Road and Little Falls Parkway. My father could ride his bike to his office in downtown D.C.

Gaithersburg and Germantown were literally still small country towns, surrounded by farms. A friend of mine lived near Germantown. I recall my mother acting as if it was a major road trip to drive out there to his parents' house!

Then came the cancerous growth -- residential sprawl.

The federal gov't continued to grow, and more and more employers moved to the area. That drew more people. The "suburbs" began to extend -- first Rockville, then Gaithersburg, then Germantown.

Most people want to live near their workplace. When the District was a smaller, more manageable size that was possible. As the tumor grew in size though, supply and demand kicked in. It became increasingly more expensive to buy or rent inside, or immediately outside, the Beltway. The close-in suburbs became too expensive for ordinary people.

I just checked, and the houses in my old neighborhood are currently listed for $1M to $2M. There is one literally around the corner from our old house that is on the market for $1.15M.

So needless to say, the 'good old days' are long gone. The percentage of people who can live within a 15-20 minute drive of where they work, let alone biking distance, is very small. Very few people can afford to buy a house close to Washington. Most of those homes are out of reach for all but professionals earning solid 6-figure salaries.

As long as employers continue to insist upon packing themselves into areas like D.C. that are already impacted, the problem will continue. People will have no choice but to move further and further out to be able to afford to live and pay their bills.

You asked, "Why not pay for people to live closer to work or work closer to home?" I'm open to any ideas, but I'm not sure how that would work. Who would pay? Would there be subsidized rent? Vouchers?

You mentioned, "...incentives for companies to move where their workers live...". I've mentioned giving employers incentives to locate in more rural areas that would like an economic boost. Spread the jobs around a bit. Take a little pressure of overcrowded areas like ours. That would help economically depressed areas, and allow people to choose where they want to live -- in an urban/suburban area or more rural area. It would also take some traffic off the roads around here and make it a bit more affordable to live closer to D.C.

One thing's for sure -- it took decades to create the mess we're in, it will not be corrected overnight.


gary4books

[thumbup][smile]

mrnatural1

[Once again, there was no "+Add Reply" below, so I'm replying up here...]

On Dec 22, 2018 @ 10:10am, MD1756 wrote:

"Mrnatural1, I know we are on the same page environmentally, just not on the hypocrisy issue. What was legal once is a great argument for companies that say they shouldn't have to clean up contamination they caused because they complied with the laws at the time (at the same time they fight laws to make them more accountable for their pollution). Someone else pointed out in their comment that unless you purchase the property and thus the views, there is no guarantee for the future view. Zoning can and should change to meet current/future needs. After all, we were all once promised full retirement benefits by the federal government under Social Security at age 65. Well, that has changed and now it's 67 for those born in 1960 and after. No one should expect their views to stay protected forever especially if the greater good is being served. I don't own a cell phone, but I don't think the cell phone towers shouldn't be built even if they were to place one within sight of my property. To quote the Rolling Stones, "You can't always get what you want...."

~~~

"...but if you try sometimes you just might find, you get what you need."

MD1756,

Right after I clicked "Post Reply" I realized I should not have written: "...assuming a person broke no laws or regulations when they moved here...". That was unnecessary and only muddies the waters. The jury shall disregard that portion of my post!

Of course I agree that corporations should be held liable for their own messes. Laws change and we all must comply with the new laws -- except for some cases where there is grandfathering, as with vehicles and some building codes for example.

The point I was attempting to make is that a person has every right to move to FredCo and then immediately begin fighting any further development. That would include advocating for zoning to remain the same, or change (as appropriate) as you mentioned.

In this case, it is not at all 'hypocritical' for people in the development across from the proposed solar energy plant to advocate for the zoning to remain AG. I'm not necessarily saying they should prevail, just that they have as much right as any other FredCo residents to voice their opinion and to have it considered. Their opinion should carry the same weight whether they've lived here for 8 months or 80 years, all else equal.

FWIW, my view is that it should remain a farm with AG zoning in perpetuity. I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess that isn't possible (unless the owner puts a conservation easement on his land). Another option would be a park -- but there is likely no guarantee that the park land would never be rezoned. That would mean the solar energy plant looks like a good option (if not the best one).

I have to admit, I own a smartphone, but I rarely use it. It's usually turned off.

As for that whole age 67 for full SSA benefits deal -- we wuz robbed! I wanna be grandfathered!

[wink]

LeonardKeepers

in situations like this i question the elected officials as to how much knowledge they really have on these matters,how much of the information presented to them is comes from the organization that wants to install these panels and how much real research do they do to make solar panels feasible for the areas these panels are to be constructed.in this situation using prime farm land is not the best area to construct solar panels.people who complain about the fragrances generated on a farm should have anticipated that before moving to farm country. people need to realize that the food does not come from a grocery store.situations like alternative energy certainly creates a somewhat catch 22 situation, alternative energy is needed but our elected officials need do their homework before passing legislation on such matters as solar energy.

mrnatural1

[There is no "+Add Reply" button below]

On Dec 21, 2018 @ 7:31pm gabrielshorn2013 wrote:

"MD1756, There is also a development of $500k+ houses going in just past the churches about 1000 feet past that site. This used to be cow and corn fields. They'll love the view, that is until spreading time, which happens several times after harvest until planting time. We say it smells like money. The newbies...not so much."

Hilarious! [beam]

Personally, the smell of farms has never bothered me. We had horses; cattle; hogs; goats, etc when I was growing up over in Carroll County.

Some of the greatest laws ever written are the "Right to Farm" laws.

There isn't much that's more annoying than someone who moves to a rural or semi-rural area because they want to live in "the country" and then complains about odors from farms.

gary4books

Local resources are the new standard for planning. In an "ideal" world all would be local. we would live close to a job, have local food and even local schools for all. No need for driving to work or to school and no need to import the major part of our food. That could empty the roads and make driving fun again.

Nicki

[thumbup]. Gary.
I think employers should give preference to local hires. Especially local government.

KellyAlzan

Reality: Tyson’s Corner Va. Was once very similar to Biggs Ford Road. It was once similar to Dublin road. And that’s no exaggeration

mrnatural1

No doubt Kelly.

It's very, very sad what has happened to the D.C. area.

KellyAlzan

I feel that people think land can only be a dairy farm or a housing development. What do you think King Buick GMC used to be? What do you think the Aldi warehouse used to be?

gary4books

When I lived in Reston, Herndon was a country cross road and it was mostly rural. But that was nearly 50 years ago.

KellyAlzan

I’ll take a solar farm butting up to my property any day before I’d take a housing community.

I’d take a solar farm anyday over a hog farm.

All farms are subject to development. If you live near a farm it’s wishful thinking to presume the farm will always be as it was when you moved into your home.

The opponents quoted in the article have said nothing compelling. And the FNP makes no mention of anyone citing verifiable facts, and I don’t believe anyone did provide anything to back up their claims.

There are solar farms on the eastern shore. Not as scenic as raw farmland, but 10x better than rooftops and asphalt.

Solar panels don’t make noise. There isn’t a PA System blaring all day long like a car dealership. Solar panels don’t create dust like a mulch yard or a concrete recycling facility.

Step1) accept that farms are subject to vanishment

Step 2) accept that your desire to keep it a farm is just that. Yours. And Nothing more.

Step 3) would you rather have a sea of solar panels? Or would you rather Darcars buy the land and put in an auto mall?? Or would you rather see it become a mulch yard and soil processing facility with dump trucks coming in and out all day long slamming their tailgates? Or would you rather see it become a chicken farm??

Me, I’ll take a solar farm anyday over all the other possibilities.

mrnatural1

Kelly,

All of the possibilities you mentioned are definitely less desirable, no doubt.

The way the ordinance is written though, there was no way the proposal would pass. The 'No more than 10% of tillable land" part alone killed it. In fact, I'm surprised it wasn't dismissed out of hand.

I think we all agree that if it is not going to remain a farm, a solar power facility is FAR more preferable than just about any other option -- aside from, say, a park.

The primary question is, should it remain zoned AG? Even those who would prefer that (like myself) must consider the fact that land can and does get rezoned -- especially after generous "campaign donations" are made and "gifts" are bestowed.

That being the case, unless there is some way to lock in the AG zoning (doubtful) or the county purchases the land for a park (also doubtful) perhaps the solar power plant is 'next best'.

DickD

Si, the Council didn't know what they were doing and now have to change it. That's life.

KellyAlzan

No doubt. My comments are directed to those opposing.

shiftless88

Why is it so important to keep "productive farmland" in use for growing crops? What's next, rules on what they can grow? I mean, if the farmer decides to grow wine grapes should that be disallowed because that isn't the most useful crop? Should farmers with good farmland be required to grow the crops that are most beneficial for humanity? Where does one draw the line? The regulations need to be changed.

mrnatural1

shiftless,

Currently, sometimes it is not important to keep farmland in use. In fact, some farmers are paid to *not* grow anything.

However, if population growth predictions hold, and we continue to allow prime farmland to be taken out of commission forever (by paving it over for development) then we will need every square foot of remaining productive land just to keep people from starving.

For now though, it seems that the free market is working fairly well. Most farmers try to determine which crops will be most profitable (a bit of a guessing game) and let that be their guide.

I've been a fan of solar energy since the 1970s, but installing PV panels on good farmland is not the best idea. Theoretically, yes, they can be removed -- but it's not a matter of just unbolting the panels. There is the extensive support structure with concrete footings, all of the wiring, cable, conduit, breakers, and expensive utility intertie equipment.

For that reason, it's safe to assume that as the panels drop below a certain % of max design output, they will be replaced, rather than shutting down the plant.

gary4books

Design them for easy removal.

DickD

The panels are easy to change, Gary,it's all the infrastructure associated with them when you make a total removal. But why should that be a great concern, things change all the time. It is merely a matter of what makes the most sense and economics.

gary4books

Design the whole system for easy removal. That should be very easy to do.

des21

Boyce R breathes a sigh of relief.[beam]

glenkrc

Sorry, but this array is different from the one (Legore Bridge) that would affect Boyce. Last I knew, it was going as planned. [sad]

https://www.fredericknewspost.com/news/economy_and_business/agriculture/state-upholds-decision-to-allow-legore-bridge-solar-project-to/article_2dedc2ed-dd02-50f8-a724-90b990f3221c.html

des21

My bad, thanks Glen, I thought they were one and the same. I don't know about anyone else but every time I have tried to use solar for anything- it's been a freakin nightmare. Doesn't work for beans. Just saying,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

mrnatural1

des,

What are some examples of solar not working for you?

If you're referring to outdoor lighting that has solar panels built in, that sort of product rarely works well. The panels are often too small, the batteries do not have enough reserve capacity, and the location of the lights is rarely the best for the solar panels.

lyle

"Commissioners, right before they voted to deny the rezoning of the 151 acres, acknowledged that the ordinance was restrictive. Along with the denial, they unanimously approved a motion to recommend that the County Council review the county’s current solar ordinance."

Nicely done, commissioners! Follow the law. Recognize when they need to change. Do something about it. That's how it's supposed to work.

If any solar developers happen to read this, it is possible to build a solar fam without completely sacrificing aesthetics. You might think that the benefits of solar are enough to sell anyone on the project. That's clearly not the case. A high priority with residential-adjacent projects is the inclusion of attractive buffer zones and any other imaginative neighbor-friendly constructs. Simply put, make it pretty and put that foot forward at the start.

On the other hand... I have no idea what I'm talking about. Probably best to ignore me.

mattyb426

Frederick and everything around it will continue to grow, more homes, business, roads and even solar panels. its just the way things work. If you live in anywhere in the DC metro area and this bothers you, you might as well pack your bags now because its never going to be any different. I'm not sure why people seem to think that sprawl stops with the road they live on or the neighborhood they live in. Lastly if you buy a home in the vicinity of farm land, you've gotta know its not going to be farm land forever.

mrnatural1

matty,

"That's just the way it is" is not always the best defense of the status quo.

Actually, growth will not continue forever. Contrary to what those who profit from it will tell you, growth is *not* good, it is destructive.

Infinite growth on a finite planet is impossible.

The good news is that in many industrialized/developed countries, including the US, birth rates have dropped to or below replacement level. People are beginning to realize that unfettered sprawl is bad for Maryland, America, and the planet. They are also catching on to the realities of raising children -- they require an enormous amount of responsibility, money, time, and sacrifice. Many studies have determined that the cost of raising one child to the age of 18 is $200,000 to $250,000 (dep on the area of the country and cost of living).

With that in mind, many young couples (here and in other countries) have decided that 1-2 kids is plenty.

Our population is still increasing, but it's due to immigration. That will begin to slow in the future.

So while the D.C. area has always experienced moderate to high growth in the past, that does not mean growth will continue.

As they say, "Past performance is no guarantee of future results".

We'd better hope that holds true in our case, because this area is becoming so congested, so impacted, that it will become completely dysfunctional if the ugly residential sprawl continues. Traffic will be so bad that people simply will not be able too commute to their jobs because there aren't enough hours in the day.

gary4books

OK. Go for "Utopia." Work at home or live across the street from the job.
Might take some ow cost homes for some of us.

mattyb426

The growth in this area may one day come to an end but I guarantee that will be no time soon, there is plenty of room in Frederick county and the surrounding area. The underlying problem is the traffic and the fact that there are more people commuting through Frederick than people that live and work here. greedy people who must work in a higher paying area than they live so that they can have all the junk they cant afford otherwise. so then "we" all who live and work in Frederick county must foot the bill for the difference. while they complain about how bad the roads that they use more than anyone else. Its 15 and 70 everyday, primarily out of state tags. there is even a message board on route 340 telling out of state residents how long it will be for them to get out of MD. and its electric paid for by "us" MD residents and it never reads anything else, it could easily be replaced by a reflective sign. Finally "not enough hours in the day"? what a joke, find a new job maybe one where you don't have to buy a Prius to feel better about driving 100 miles a day just to get to work. what does all that have to do with the growth in Frederick county? the fact is we will just be some kind of beltway community that no one will want to actually live in anymore.

mrnatural1

matty,

Traffic is clearly a huge problem (and getting worse every year) but the true underlying problem is population density. As you said, there are too many people traveling from far and wide to the employment centers in and around D.C. and Baltimore.

The people you refer to as "greedy" are playing by the rules. Many of them are likely your friends and neighbors. We can advocate for new rules/laws, but we should not criticize people for doing what's best for them -- as long as it is legal and moral.

Where people live is irrelevant. I get your frustration but people do have the right to drive to Baltimore or Washington from WA or PA if they want to spend that much of their time in their car.

It's great that you are able to live and work in FredCo (seriously) but the fact is, that is simply not an option for most people.

Your prediction for FredCo ("...some kind of beltway community that no one will want to actually live in...") is very bleak. There is a possibility it will come true, but I sure hope not.

A couple ways to prevent that are:

1) Stop widening the commuter routes. They are the arteries that feed the malignant growth tumor.

2) Encourage major employers to locate in other areas -- far away from here. Seriously, our fellow Americans across the country are not doing as well as we are. They need jobs. We should spread the employers (gov't and private) around.

pappyjoe

For every action is a reaction. Solar panels are green energy at the beginning but turn into black panels of toxic waste recycling at the end of their life cycle. The product is not environmentally while in use also.

MD1756

Last I knew solar panels do are not know to cause cancer. Solid hazardous wastes are less of a problem than releases of carcinogens directly into the air. For example, benzene released form fossil fuel sources is a current serious human health/environmental problem that those producing/using/burning oil, gasoline, etc. do not directly pay for the consequences. Which is better?

KellyAlzan

If Dick and I were county councilmen, this would not be an issue.

DickD

You have that right. But you run and I will support you.

mrnatural1

Run Kelly, run! [cool]

gary4books

It is said that there is no accounting for taste. Others have both agriculture and solar power on the same land. Ted Kennedy opposed windmills because they were "ugly." Frederick is a rich county and it can afford to choose what it does with its land. But a compromise of sorts might protect good use from future needs.

DickD

This is ridiculous. The County would let this land go to housing? And what would those neighbors be looking at then? The restrictions are ridiculous too

mrnatural1

Dick,

Was there mention of rezoning the land from AG to residential?

If so, then clearly solar panels are preferable.

DickD

No, but with the money developers could and would give to politicians, don't bet that the land wouldn't be rezoned.

mrnatural1

Dick,

Good point, I share your concern.

At this point I'd have to say my preferences (which may very well not be realistic) are:

1) AG zoning in perpetuity

2) A park

3) A solar energy facility

At least solar would block a housing development. Maybe there is some version of 'rock, paper, scissors there...?

MD1756

Mrnatural1, look at google earth and diagonally across the intersection is a small development built around 2002 on what used to be farmland. How long do you think they'll keep their monopoly on their view when politicians keep promoting social policies that promote population growth? They spoiled the view for those there before 2002 but they don't want their view spoiled.

gabrielshorn2013

MD1756, There is also a development of $500k+ houses going in just past the churches about 1000 feet past that site. This used to be cow and corn fields. They'll love the view, that is until spreading time, which happens several times after harvest until planting time. We say it smells like money. The newbies...not so much.

mrnatural1

MD1756 ,

You're preaching to the choir. We should be doing everything we can to slow and then reverse population growth. Almost all of our serious problems are the result of overpopulation.

In addition to the US and the world being severely overpopulated, an additional problem we have here in FredCo (and much of Central MD) is that, obviously, people are not spread out evenly across the country, with the same population density everywhere. They tend to cluster around major metropolitan areas, because that's where most of the major employers and decent paying jobs are.

America has about double its sustainable population, and we have more than our share of those people in the D.C./Baltimore area.

I do have to defend the residents of the 2002 development a bit. A common criticism we hear is that a particular person/group of people only recently moved here and now they want to prevent others from doing so. What's wrong with that? It's only natural to want to improve or at least maintain one's quality of life. The amount of time someone has been a resident of FredCo is irrelevant. We don't make people wait X number of years before they can vote. The minute a person/family moves here they have just as much right to voice their opinion as anyone else.

I understand that it may seem hypocritical to some, but assuming a person broke no laws or regulations when they moved here there's nothing wrong with immediately trying to get any further construction halted.

When a pool, elevator, or life boat is at or over capacity, we cannot fault the last person in for wanting to prevent anyone else from following.


MD1756

Mrnatural1, I know we are on the same page environmentally, just not on the hypocrisy issue. What was legal once is a great argument for companies that say they shouldn't have to clean up contamination they caused because they complied with the laws at the time (at the same time they fight laws to make them more accountable for their pollution). Someone else pointed out in their comment that unless you purchase the property and thus the views, there is no guarantee for the future view. Zoning can and should change to meet current/future needs. After all, we were all once promised full retirement benefits by the federal government under Social Security at age 65. Well, that has changed and now it's 67 for those born in 1960 and after. No one should expect their views to stay protected forever especially if the greater good is being served. I don't own a cell phone, but I don't think the cell phone towers shouldn't be built even if they were to place one within sight of my property. To quote the Rolling Stones, "You can't always get what you want...."

KellyAlzan

I have never heard of farm land becoming no longer farmable if the land isn’t used to farm. If it’s not used to farm, u simply TILL IT UP!

mrnatural1

Kelly,

I wondered about that too. I'm not sure what that guy meant. I'd love to get an explanation as to how land becomes no longer productive if it sits for a couple decades.

Sometimes people pull stuff out of their ear when they are passionate about an issue.

gabrielshorn2013

"Why not put these arrays on land not suitable for agriculture?” Volovar said. “I live directly behind that farm. My husband and I bought our property, partly because of the beauty of that pastoral scene. We love to watch the seasons and the crops changing.”

Somehow folks seem to think they are entitled to "a pastoral view" of someone else's property. You are not! If you want to preserve "your view", band together with neighbors who agree, and buy the land.

mrnatural1

Good point gabriel.

As much as I despise the ongoing destruction of Frederick County, and enjoy the few nice views we have left, it is not realistic to expect farmers and other landowners to turn down what is often millions of dollars from developers -- just so we can continue to enjoy the view of their property.

A few people have the strength of character to sell the development rights to the state for a fraction of what a developer would pay for their property, but most grab the cash and don't look back.

I like to say that we can't blame people for playing by the rules, but the rules must change.

Rather than being critical of farmers for dealing with the devil, we should use zoning to make sure that the land cannot be developed. Problem solved.

As a landowner myself, I'm happy to put my money where my mouth is. If the zoning here on the mountain changed from RC to R16 "High Density Residential" I'd be a multimillionaire. I don't want it. RC is just fine.

KellyAlzan

[thumbup]

DickD

[thumbup][thumbup] Absolutely right, Gabe.

KMRD1

Frederick County is sending out wrong signals for the county to go “Green”.

Can’t put solar panels on a farm on Biggs Ford Road, but solar panels are going on County Property where a Incenterator was going and everyone complained.

Sending out bad vibes like Blaine and company use to.

Guess the 151 acres will be Discovery 2 soon. More section 8 housing.

mrnatural1

I sure hope not KMRD.

The last thing we need is more houses.

According to the article, the landowner is dead set against residential sprawl. Hopefully he will stick to his guns. If he hasn't done so already, he should put a conservation easement on his farm.

I don't know anything about the property where the incinerator was going to be built, but I'm guessing it isn't prime farmland. I can see why people who were adamantly opposed to the incinerator might support solar panels instead (more "green", much less of an eyesore).

gary4books

"More section 8 housing..." Is this "code talk." Who will live in these homes?

FrederickFan

The county just proposed solar on 5 acres of industrial land beside the wastewater treatment plant. This is 151 acres of prime farmland that is zoned for agriculture not housing. Not comparable projects.

mrnatural1

Solar and wind power are great, but it is short-sighted to take good farmland out of production.

Theoretically the PV panels and support structure *could* be removed at the end of their useful service life, but that's a lot of work and expense. What's more likely is that the panels would be replaced and the land would remain unproductive.

If it weren't for transmission losses, all panels would be best placed in the Southwestern desert areas.

bnick467

How does installing solar panels "take good farmland out of production"? Isn't the land then being used to PRODUCE electricity, another commodity that the rest of us need? Shouldn't it be up to the farmer to decide which commodity to produce to best maximize the profitability of his business? Or if there is a stretch of bad weather for a few years and a farmer is about to go bankrupt, would you rather he sell his land to a developer so that it can be turned into another housing development with all of the construction and infrastructure problems they bring?

mrnatural1

bnick,

If the choice is ugly boxes or PV panels, then obviously the panels are preferable -- hands down.

Fortunately, those aren't the only 2 choices.

Generally speaking, the fewer restrictions we place on landowners the better, but there is a balancing act between what's good for the landowner and what's best for the community and society at large.

Right now, there is no shortage of farmland, but that will not always be the case. As I said above, at least the solar panels and associated equipment can theoretically be removed, but due to the large investment and cost of removal, it's highly likely that once prime farmland is converted to a solar power plant it will not be converted back.

shiftless88

I support solar energy and think many of the argument presented against it were silly, but the decision was proper and Frederick needs to re-think the regulations and zoning priorities. I do not understand how soil would be worthless if not farmed for ten years. I mean, no one farmed it for millions of years before we got here and things grew just fine. What am I missing?

bnick467

You're not missing anything, Shiftless. This argument that the land will become unusable if USED to generate solar power is baseless. It will be used to to generate electricity instead of crops. We all use power, just like we all use corn, or soybeans, or the milk or beef that the crops feed. It's the farmer's land, the farm is a family business. It should be up to the farmer to choose how to maximize profitability of this land, whether it is growing soybeans, corn, rye, hay, raising cattle for beef or milk, or used to generate electricity. ALL of these commodities are things the rest of us need. And for those who say it will ruin the aesthetics, ask yourself this... Which would ruin your view more? Solar panels, or hundreds of McMansions each on 1/4 acre lots with all of the construction, infrastructure, and increased traffic that those developments bring. The county would most likely have no problem re-zoning that beautiful farmland if it was going to a rich developer who donated to political campaigns.

DickD

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