Stephanie Knighton and her Suwannee County, FL neighbors were deeply troubled by the massive, 466-acre solar farm that would’ve enclosed some homes on three sides. The panels and a substation were proposed very close to homes.
After learning of the proposal, Stephanie and her neighbors visited several existing solar farms to see what it was like living near these facilities. At one solar farm neighbors living 300-feet away spoke of occasional solar panel glare and a persistent noise you can hear on the following clip: https://wp.me/aaUd8q-1im. Noise from a solar farm, like that heard in this clip, is very unusual. CEDS attempted repeatedly to contact the owner of this solar farm to learn why the noise was occurring and to get it corrected. Regrettably, the owner never responded.
Stephanie and her neighbors also found that trees and shrubs planted to screen solar farms from view were ineffective due to either poor planting or maintenance.
CEDS identified a number of measures to reduce the potential negative effects of the solar farm. The applicant did submit a revised site plan that addressed some concerns. However, area residents were troubled by the applicant’s proposal to only plant only two- to six-foot high shrubs-trees to screen the proposed 18-foot tall solar panels. This combined with the landscaping failure seen at existing solar farms and the inability to resolve the noise issue caused the neighbors to be skeptical.
Stephanie and her neighbors testified about their concerns at a September 15th hearing before the Suwannee County County Commissioners. They were represented by a lawyer who is part of the CEDS Good Attorneys network and a planning expert. The Commissioners voted 4-1 to deny approval for the solar farm.