Friday, February 24, 2012

The Solar Bylaw protects local farmland

On Feb 27th 2012 at 7pm (at the Carver Middle High School), we have an opportunity to vote for a residents' solar bylaw that protects the unique farmland of Carver. I believe that it's important to protect local farmland, because if we don't, who will? 

Worth Protecting? Heck yes!

It seems that some elected officials at Town Hall don't want to protect our bogs. Of the two solar projects that have successfully completed the Carver Planning board’s site plan review process, one would be sited on land permitted as a cranberry bog, the other on an active cranberry bog. Both of these solar arrays would be larger than 1 acre.


This bylaw is pro solar power in that it ensures that everyone’s right to be self-sufficient (and to lower their carbon footprint) remains protected. Anybody will be allowed to install solar panels at their home or business if they decide to do so. Less than 1 acre of panels should be enough to power any homes, and most businesses in town.
Projects that require more than 1 acre of solar panels are different. These projects are the industrial-scale power production facilities that are designed for profit.


This bylaw was put forward so that industrial-scale solar projects will be allowed in industrial zoned areas of town only. This is appropriate because these projects are permitted as industrial, and they aren't agricultural at all. Another state with extensive experience with this issue is New Jersey. Here is where the NJFB stands on this issue:


While New Jersey Farm Bureau supports the development and use of renewable energy, the organization does not support broadening of the definition of agricultural production to include the “harvesting of the sun or wind” for power generation.

Farmland creates identifiable and unique community character, and adds to the quality of life in this town. The abundance of cranberry bogs attracts people to Carver. All across the country, farmland is at risk.

In the USA, we’ve been losing more than an acre of farmland every minute.
New Jersey, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Delaware and New Hampshire lead as states with the greatest percentage of farmland lost.

We should learn from the experiences of other states that have already faced this issue, like California. This news comes from a November 2011 report:

California Farm Bureau President Paul Wenger said the organization filed suit to assure that large-scale solar power facilities are located in appropriate places.
"Farmers recognize the potential of solar power," Wenger said, "and California farmers lead the nation in the installation of on-farm solar power generators. But pressure to build utility-scale solar plants has touched off a land rush that threatens thousands of acres of prime farmland. There are millions of acres of marginal land in California. That's where these power plants should go, so we can conserve prime farmland to grow the crops that sustain our state and nation."

I also support what local conservation groups like the Wildlands Trust of Duxbury are doing, in their efforts to preserve and protect local farmland.

Since 1973, the Wildlands Trust has helped to save 6,500 acres of land, including woodlands, bogs, river preserves, and coastal conservation areas. Also included are 720 acres of farmland that helps feed the region, the state, and the nation.

Alternatively, there are several government programs designed to help farmers that are facing financial difficulties, like the Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR) Program. The APR pays eligible farmers the difference between the “fair market value” and the “agricultural value” of their farmland, in exchange for a permanent deed restriction which prevents any use of the property that will have a negative impact on its agricultural viability. This program helps farmers today, and helps to guarantee that there will be farmland available for future generations of farmers.

Most industrial-scale solar projects receive funding from various government subsidies. When that happens, it could be against the law to convert farmland for non-agricultural use. By passing the Farmland Protection Policy Act in 1981, Congress took action to assure that projects (in any way) funded by the Federal Government do not cause United States farmland to be converted for non-agricultural uses.

This solar bylaw respects the FPPA, but I can't say the same thing about some recent Carver Planning board decisions. The time to act is now, before it’s too late. I've yet to meet a single person that moved to Carver because they want it to be "the solar capital of New England"! Protecting our unique farmland, while preserving everyone’s rights to self-sufficiency, it’s the right thing to do. These are the reasons why I support this solar bylaw. Please help us to protect our local farmland, and vote yes for the” Large-scale ground mounted solar photovoltaic installations” bylaw.

2 comments:

  1. Well said Mr. Shannon, Its to bad the Greed of others is force feeding us solar instead of Cranberries!

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  2. Speaking truth to power, this letter is also online here in the local newspaper website:

    http://www.wickedlocal.com/carver/topstories/x1928436391/LETTER-Solar-bylaw-protects-farmland

    ReplyDelete