The City Council of Staunton, Virginia
recently approved a special use permit application for
a 96 acre utility-scale solar facility.
The plan removes the acreage from an agricultural district
that borders the original Lewis family settlement of 1732
to build the first industrial solar power plant in our small town
--which would be the first one to be built by the applicant.
We are concerned citizens with a lot of questions, including:
Who would develop the project?
Applicant and affiliates are in Richmond area and Northern Virginia, not Staunton or the Shenandoah Valley.
Developer is an LLC with no track record. It was incorporated in 2021; this would be its first solar facility project.
Who would benefit?
Outside developers, investors, and consultants would profit but will this bring jobs or tourism to Staunton?
Community solar benefits are available only to Dominion customers, not to SVEC co-op members on surrounding properties.
What would this project do to property values?
The previous owner of the proposed site sold it in August of 2022 for market rate per acre for local agricultural land.
(Note: This is a correction of our previous statement that it seemed to have sold for significantly more than assessment.
This was an error based on the 'land use' tax base, not the assessment.)
But would development of an industrial solar facility negatively affect the value of surrounding properties?
How would this affect the beauty and history of this area?
The proposed site has been in the Bells Lane Agricultural-Forestal District of farms
and natural habitats
Surrounding homes, a church, a school sports fie
ld, and the planned YMCA
would have a view of acres of solar panels
Acres of solar panels would be the backdrop to the first settlement at Staunton
, intruding on the viewshed
Is this just the beginning?
If these 96 acres are re-zoned, would it create a precedent for more/larger industrial/solar facilities in town?
Approximately one fourth of the city is in Agricultural-Forestal Districts
Would removal of this parcel set a precedent for more acres to lose their overlay zoning protection?
Is solar energy truly clean, safe, and renewable?
Would toxic chemicals or metals leach into the soil on the site?
Or the flood zone on the adjoining properties?
Is a solar facility with battery storage a fire hazard?
Does our local fire department have the training and equipment necessary to handle it?
Where would the panels be disposed of in 25-30 years, when the solar facility is decommissioned?
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