Riding the Storm Out
I am so sorry I’ve not been posting this summer. We have been on a tumultuous ride with wave after wave and it doesn’t look like we will have relief anytime soon.
It started at the end of May with the death of my great nephew who was just weeks away from his 19th birthday. While we were still reeling from that, my uncle passed away suddenly. He was my dad’s only living brother.
Not even two weeks after that my brother went to a hospice care facility and within three days he left us too. Two days later my hubby’s cousin passed away too. I was numb as I sat through her service.
I didn’t have time to grieve though, because we received a notice that the people who own the forty acres right to the west of us are planning to put in a “solar garden”. This is not a garden. It’s a proposed 13acre, 6300 panel industrial solar site. We all have agricultural zoning and this is not an allowable use. They are putting in for a conditional use permit to be able to do this. We also found out that the same people doing this are the ones who complained to the county compliance officer about our building site and that we are living in a camper. (Which is within county regulations).
This project will have an 8 foot vinyl fence around 3 sides. They are proposing to build it 100 feet from our side door. This fence would run 430 feet from the front to the back, completely blocking any kind of view on the west side of our home.
I had no idea when I waved and said a friendly hello on a snowy Sunday morning last spring that I was running straight into a complete mess of a vindictive trap.
We have had 2 meetings thus far and at every one, she and her husband mention us and our tires. These people live in the subdivision to the north of their parcel and look down their noses at anyone who thinks and lives outside the box. We have other neighbors who live in their campers as well, until they can get their homes built.
We have all tried to live within our means, paying cash for our homes as we go, so it takes a lot longer. We all live off the grid and it’s not easy, but we aren’t asking for any special treatment, just to be left alone. Apparently, that was too much to ask.
We were given a chance to send our concerns to the county planning department in protest of this project. The original date on the flier said we had till Aug. 16th, but the planner moved the date up to Aug. 8, cutting our time off by 7 days.
Then we went in front of the planning commission board. The county presented their case, then the company man presented his bedazzled case. We had 3 minutes each for comment after that. The board sat there in their elevated positions looking down on us, not even trying to veil the contempt from their faces. They voted to push the project through and even told us if we didn’t like the view, to look out another window.
We have one more chance in front of the board of county commissioners, but we aren’t too hopeful about them either. This project was on the fast track from the beginning.
I have to say, we aren’t against renewable energy. How could we be? We live off grid and have our own solar panels, but we have 6 not 6300. There are more appropriate places in this county for a project like this, one that isn’t right next to residential homes and in the middle of beautiful untouched land and viewscapes. Our poor neighbors live directly to the south of the whole project on the hill and would look down into that mass of panels every time they walk out their door.
My dad said it perfectly when he said it would be a tumor on the land and the neighborhood. We have a small deer herd that runs through here, coyotes, some folks have seen elk, and all sorts of small animals as well. This is a travesty. The hardest part is that our voices haven’t been heard.
We have a group of supporters from the owner’s own subdivision who have written letters, done interviews and stood with us at these meetings, all to fall onto deaf ears.
Where is the justice? Doing something which is ultimately good for the environment is frowned upon if you don’t follow the status quo. Their answer is to subscribe to a solar panel “farm” so you don’t have to put panels on your house, but you can still feel good about doing your part to save the environment.
We have some recourses if this goes through, but we would rather not have to go there. I really miss the days when being a neighbor meant something. I have to say, this has brought a lot of people together who might not have otherwise done so. We do have neighbors, good ones, good people with lots of guts and determination to stand up to bullies.
I am trying to stay positive and have faith that the county commissioners will do the right thing. So far we haven’t seen much that would give us hope.
I believe in a God who is bigger than all of this. He sends me promises.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”