Troy right to deny solar project

Published 3:00 am Friday, February 24, 2017

Last week, the Troy City Council and Troy Board of Adjustments effectively squashed Eagle Solar Group’s plans to build a solar farm off of Butter and Egg Road near Arrowhead Drive.

The board and council made the right decisions.

On the council’s part, there really isn’t any question that the project isn’t worth giving up $1 million in tax dollars for. The project would have generated some money, especially in the construction phase, but the project simply didn’t justify getting an abatement.

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With the abatement denied, the Board of adjustments had a substantially different decision to make, but ultimately took into account the one thing that mattered most in this instance: the voices of the citizens of that area.

The interest from the community in keeping the project out was evident by the two meetings as packed as ever during my time as a reporter. At the public hearing, many residents made their opinions perfectly clear about the project.

Some of the concerns may not have come with evidence to back them up, such as negative health impacts and decrease to property value.

However, because this was being considered for a “special exception” to allow part of the project to enter residential zoning, the majority approval of the area’s residents was absolutely tantamount in allowing the exception– approval it didn’t have by a long shot.

At least 10 different residents from the area spoke at the board meeting and all had different concerns, but they unanimously asked the board to deny the project.

It’s understandable what Eagle Solar Group was trying to do.  Company rep. David Herskovits, for the most part, addressed residents’ concerns and answered their questions as best as he could. He seemed very willing to work with the community to make sure the panels were hidden from the road and homes.

The biggest mistake made in the attempt to bring the project here was waiting until there was a decision to be made.

Herskovits tried at the last second of the meeting to have the decision tabled so he could establish a task force to work with the community.

But that was too little too late.

Perhaps if the company had sent somebody to hold a series of meetings with residents to discuss research that shows no impact on health and property values and to get resident input on how to hide the project from the streets, maybe the residents could have come around and OK’d the project to move in next door.

But you can’t expect residents to come around on an industry unknown to this area and accept it over the course of a one-hour meeting.

As the residents at the board meeting did that afternoon, I applaud the board and the council for their decisions in this difficult situation.