BYH to the person responding re the voter ID question. Thanks for your example. I think that everyone should have the...

The ongoing debate over solar power


N.C. State soil scientist Ron Heiniger worries that large solar facilities like the 650-acre Summit Farms Solar Facility in Currituck County (pictured) could damage the farming environment.


Monday, January 1, 2018

The sun rises and sets. So does the outlook for solar energy in an eastern North Carolina county.

A three-judge panel of the N.C. Court of Appeals ruled last month that developers were illegally denied a permit to build a commercial solar farm by Currituck County in 2016. The decision removes a cloud from the otherwise bright solar industry in North Carolina — second in the nation behind California — but doesn’t necessarily signal clear skies in the future.

The ruling could be appealed to the Supreme Court. Or the legislature could reduce tax breaks for solar farms, making investments less lucrative.

And Currituck County already acted earlier this year to bar future development of solar farms.

“Large solar projects haven’t been a good deal for Currituck County residents, says Bobby Hanig, the county commission’s chairman,” Carolina Journal reported in April.

Not all residents agree, but their elected representatives are empowered to set zoning regulations and decide what land uses are allowed.

“Solar array” was a permitted use listed in Currituck County’s development ordinance in 2015 when Currituck Sunshine Farm LLC and Ecoplexus Inc. applied to build a solar farm on a former golf course in Grandy. The county’s planning staff and Planning Board recommend approval. But when the Board of Commissioners held a hearing, acting as a “quasi-judicial” body, a number of residents complained that solar panels wouldn’t be compatible with nearby neighborhoods; there were drainage problems on the site; and home values might be adversely affected. Commissioners rejected the application.

The developers challenged the decision. A Superior Court judge upheld the county’s action, but the appellate court reversed. Its ruling, written by Judge John Tyson, found that the developers complied with all county requirements and that no competent evidence was presented to the contrary. Specifically, the commissioners’ finding that the solar farm would endanger public health and safety wasn’t supported by facts.

A county board of commissioners may be a political body, but when it sits to determine whether an applicant for a conditional use permit qualifies, it must act in a legal capacity. In regard to fears about drainage and flooding, the Currituck board “wholly ignored Petitioners’ expert testimony on water management, and solely considered lay witnesses’ testimony of their speculative fears of worsening floods due to the present state of storm water drainage and management on adjacent properties,” Tyson wrote.

Perhaps anticipating this ruling, Currituck County, following another public hearing, wrote solar farms out of its development ordinance. Arguments were presented on both sides, by farmers who wanted to lease their land for energy development and by people who don’t see much benefit. Currituck County already has two large solar farms.

While the tax revenue for the county is substantial, it is limited by state law, which grants an 80 percent property tax exemption to encourage solar development. Bills were filed in the state House and Senate this year to reduce that break to 60 percent, but neither advanced.

Solar is filling more of our country’s energy needs and offers revenue opportunities in parts of the state where farming and traditional industries have declined. But not every local government will favor such developments. Communities should be able to set their own rules — as long as they abide by legal requirements.

The Court of Appeals made the right call in this case. The people of Currituck County can decide whether to support their leaders’ decision regarding future solar development — and should hold them accountable for acting in the sunlight of public interest.

The News and Record of Greensboro


Humans of Greenville


Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.


June 21, 2018

If ignorance is bliss, the state Senate might be the happiest place on the planet. It also may be where the largest number of President Barack Obama haters hang out.

It is the logical conclusion: It is not about state money since the state’s hospitals have agreed to a plan that would cover…

N.C. Legislative Building

June 20, 2018

The trade war with Canada over steel, aluminum and milk understandably grabs the headlines. But flying under the radar is the battle over Canadian newsprint, a skirmish that’s hurting businesses and costing jobs.

In January, the U.S. Commerce Department, responding to a complaint from a New…


June 20, 2018

Lawmakers in Raleigh usurped local control and eschewed local input when they set a new early voting schedule last week.

The House and Senate on Friday set a 17-day early voting period that ends the Friday before Election Day, eliminating a popular Saturday from the schedule. All early voting sites…

June 18, 2018

Master impersonators taking on multiple identities to vote as other people. Dead people rising from their graves to haunt your neighborhood polling place. Non-citizens descending by the caravan to vote alongside true Americans.

The mythical beast known as “voter fraud” is as…


June 17, 2018

About a year ago, state Republican leaders vowed to retaliate in response to a painful rebuff from the U.S. Supreme Court, which had just refused to review a lower court ruling striking down the Legislature’s 2013 discriminatory voter ID law.

“All North Carolinians can rest assured that…

June 16, 2018

Supporters of North Carolina’s Opportunity Scholarship Program say a new report by N.C. State University researchers shows that the state voucher program is helping students from low-income families.

That’s far more hype than fact.

What the study makes clear is there’s no way to…

June 15, 2018

Music is healing. Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas Senior High School put that theory on display Sunday night in New York with their stirring performance at the Tony Awards — beautifully.

The students, all from the school’s drama department, brought the house down singing the…


June 14, 2018

The Singapore summit was, without question, a triumph for Kim Jong Un and his North Korean regime. A dictator who has ordered the murder of his own family members, and who oversees a gulag comparable to those of Hitler and Stalin, was able to parade on the global stage as a legitimate statesman,…

APTOPIX Trump Kim Summit-5

June 13, 2018

Kittens are intentionally poisoned with parasite-infested meat, studied and then burned alive — and it’s happening on your dime.

Rep. Walter B. Jones Jr. spoke out last week about a controversial U.S. Department of Agriculture research project and signed on to a bipartisan bill that…

Science Says Domesticated Cats

June 12, 2018

The party whose leader promised to drain the swamp is now in the business of protecting cesspools.

The N.C. Senate’s Agriculture Committee has approved a bill that would protect the cheap way of handling hog waste: pooling it up in storage lagoons and then spraying it on fields, where it can…

Hog Smells Lawsuits-6
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