Currituck residents speak against solar farm project

MOYOCK, N.C. (WAVY) — Some residents in Currituck County met at a planning board meeting Tuesday to oppose construction of a solar farm in Moyock.

John Decker, who said he lives near the proposed solar farm site, spoke on behalf of several residents. “Not many people would want to look at a solar farm. You know, that’s just common sense,” he said.

Decker said neighbors didn’t get enough notice about a prior meeting for the project, and he started a petition against the solar farm.

“Most of the people needed more information or they didn’t want it, because of property taxes. It’s going to bring the value of your home down, that’s for sure,” Decker said.

SUNENERGY1 would build the project along Caratoke Highway in Moyock. 10 On Your Side talked to the company’s CEO, Kenny Habul, who said it would bring about 1,000 jobs to the area and increase tax revenue. He said the farm would have landscaping buffers separating it from residential areas.

“I just don’t think it would be possible for anybody to see the system, certainly not hear the system. The average height of the system is four feet from the ground,” Habul said.

Decker said he was also concerned about fire safety. Habul said the fire marshal has already reviewed the application and said the farm would not give off toxic fumes.

Carol Bell is vice chairman of the Currituck planning board, which approved a use permit for SUNENERGY1, by a vote of 6 to 1. Bell said they had to look at clean renewable energy sources and promoting business, and she felt the project met all of the county criteria. The county’s planning department also recommended approval of the project.

“We want to try to stop it, but if anything at all, you want to try to slow it down so we can get more information on this,” Decker said.

Board member Fred Whiteman said he didn’t approve the permit because he felt residents didn’t have enough information in a timely manner.

The county said it and SUNENERGY1 followed steps to notify residents within 200 feet of the land where the solar farm would go, using mailings and a sign. The board of commissioners will review the project in May at another public hearing. The company said they cannot apply for a building permit until they get a use permit.

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