Property Rights: A Key Issue in Clean Energy Siting

July 9, 2021

One of the key tools used to stop clean alternatives is “setback” ordinances so severe they make solar and wind development impossible.

Setbacks are the distances set through zoning rules on how close a wind turbine or solar farm can be to an adjoining property line or home. Experience shows that the clean energy developers have evolved sensible, safe, and effective best practices that allow for community health, safety, and welfare, without making desperately needed development impractical.

As Marty Lagina explains above, a solar or wind ordinance with one of these ‘poison pill’ provisions makes it possible for a one acre owner to lock up, essential seize or confiscate, the useable value of hundreds of acres of farmland, often meaning that the newcomer with the rural retreat, or even a part time resident, can tie the hands of landowners who have been working the land for 3, 4, or 5 generations.
I’ve witnessed many instances of this myself.

Fossil fuel funded “astro-turf” campaigns take full advantage of the leverage this gives them, and play up non-issues like Property values, bogus health concerns (wind turbines don’t cause cancer, folks) – seeking to divide communities, or make issues so contentious that local officials will capitulate just to end the unpleasantness.

Gary Artman, LTTE in Lebanon Reporter, Boone County IN:

As one of the property owners involved in leasing property for the Brickyard Solar project, we are now being told by our neighbors that we must provide them with the view of our property they request. They would have us labor producing crops for as long as they request or for perpetuity so they would have the view they desire. Of course they want this view provided to them without compensation to anyone, because they now live in or have moved to the country. Families we have purchased farms from are now telling us what we should do with the property they sold to us. There are no restrictive covenants mentioned in any of the deeds we have! We are not your Indentured Servants!

In private conversations with two of our neighbors, that are both outspoken critics of the solar project told me they wished they had property they could have leased to Brickyard Solar, but since they don’t they did not want to look at it. Another person opposed to the project said I know this is a good project for Zionsville and the county but I just don’t want to look at it.

I have visited many beach communities where on one side of the street a sign reads Ocean View Hotel, and it was, until the people on the ocean side developed their property. The solar development will not change any of our neighbor’s property only there view of ours. The thank you I now receive for providing this view they desire for many decades is now an obscene gesture. In the military I received machine gun fire that was friendlier than the scowl on some of my neighbors faces.

In reading the letters submitted to our elected officials the same false narrative and conjecture can be found, it appears people wanted a reaffirmation of their own thoughts rather than facts. If you wrote a letter based on the information in the Union and Marion (township) handouts you have been misinformed. Many of the letter writers I have known for a lifetime. I thought I would be invited to one of the neighborhood meetings to give my point of view or NextEra Energy for the facts on the project, neither one happened.

When we were first approached by NextEra Energy and two other solar companies my knee jerk reaction was that we would not be interested. As we became more educated about the project and solar energy we decided this project was something we wanted to be a part of. Our major concern was what effect it would have on our community, in doing extensive due diligence including conversations with people in other states who now have lease solar projects on their property “that are friends of some of our friends” we knew the Brickyard Solar project would be a good fit for our community. Brickyard Solar project is an economic engine that will deliver tens of millions of dollars in benefit to everyone in Boone County for decades, and provide us with the opportunity in providing renewable energy to our community and country.

Brickyard Solar is a project I am very proud to be a part of.

4 Responses to “Property Rights: A Key Issue in Clean Energy Siting”

  1. mboli Says:

    This is in rural area directly adjoining some of the wealthy northern suburbs of Indianapolis. It looks to me like the problem is: there are a goodly number of suburban houses sprinkled among the farmland. They are on something like half-acre or one-acre lots, with wealthy people who commute to Carmel or Indy. And they like their rustic vista.
    NextEra is leasing almost 3 square miles, in a patchwork of properties with jagged boundaries.
    So all those one-acre homeowners, who are taking jagged nibbles out of the edges of NextEra’s leasholdings, are demanding huge setbacks to preserve their views. And their inflated property values.

  2. J4Zonian Says:

    Of course we should never let poor people with small holdings lord it over rich people who own a lot; the natural order is the other way around. Or wait, maybe relative size isn’t the issue, and we should give up all the other things that aren’t the issue, like assumptions and stereotypes about who the players are in such situations.

    What we need above all is a progressive national government who will declare a climate emergency and clear away the lunatic right wing’s barriers to saving civilization and most life on Earth.


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