Solar vs NIMBY: a foolish conflict

Not unlike the old fear of taking a bath:

Several hundred residents plan to pack a public hearing Monday to voice their objections to a proposed 36-acre solar farm near affluent subdivisions in eastern Lincoln County at Lake Norman.

Homes worth a total of $400 million surround the site, opponent George Arena, a former Lincoln County commissioner, has said. Soybeans are now grown on the 36-acre site where Strata Solar hopes to build the farm. Webbs Road leads to pricey Sailview, the lake community where Arena lives, and to Governor’s Island, one of the lake’s most exclusive developments.

The irony of this opposition is: Lake Norman was not created as a recreational spot, it was formed to (among other things) provide water for the Marshall Steam Station, a coal-burning power plant which has caused at least 130 deaths and over a billion dollars in health care costs, due to particulate air pollution. And the pricey Sailview community gets more than just a whiff of that pollution. But setting aside the toxic and noxious elements of this story, there are some interesting private property issues you won't find unless you go hyperlocal:

In my column a few weeks ago I concluded that a solar farm on Webbs Road would be better than a pig farm, and the folks in SailView better be careful what they wished for. Apparently, many don’t believe that Dellinger has a back-up plan.

Sure, they can drag this thing on for months, even years, in court, but the Dellingers still own the land, and they can do pretty much what they want to with it, solar farm or not.

Consider some of their options:

* Continue to farm the land with soybeans and have a few cattle grazing in the fields. This is not very likely. Dellinger is in his 60s and would like to get some steady income from the land and not spend time on a tractor.

* Build single-family homes (tiny, low-income homes) on the land and really infuriate neighbors. The land is zoned residential, single-family now. Who’s to say that the Dellingers couldn’t put up a bunch of ugly look-alike houses on their land? Talk about an eyesore. Give me solar panels anyday.

* Raise llamas, pigs, chickens or whatever. Have you ever heard a zillion roosters crowing before the crack of dawn or smelled them?

Dellinger told me that if the solar farm isn’t approved, he’s not going to be mad at anybody.


He’s quick to say that he has some backup plans that he is not willing to reveal right now. And I’d be willing to bet that those backup plans would be even more distressing to SailView residents than the solar farm.

I know this sounds petty, but if they do halt this Solar farm, I hope they get something really nasty instead. It might encourage them to see a little farther than their own navels.


What a bunch of ignorant people.

Like I said on Facebook...

1) Soybean farming is much dirtier and noisier than any solar farm could ever be.

2)Glare from the panels??? Really??? These things are typically only about ten feet tall and behind buffers like tall trees. You get more glare from the lake.

3)The electromagnetic field from the grid serving your neighborhood is more likely to affect you than whatever is generated by a solar farm which, again, will be set back well off the road and probably invisible from the street.

People this ignorant make me wonder how on earth they ever managed to get into such an "affluent" community.


"...the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be."

Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail

It is a head-scratcher

I mean, I don't expect them all to be fluent in the latest breakthroughs in science. But they should be more aware than the average torch-wielding village idiots. This could be the case of one overbearing influential individual (Arena) creating an opposition just to make himself feel important. It wouldn't be the first time something like this happened.

I'd bet

these folks were against zoning before they were for it....

Wouldn't surprise me

They were probably also against regulating Wall Street, even though the sub-prime mortgage fiasco hurt their property values a hell of a lot more than some Solar panels would.