Pasco Letters to the Editor for May 25

Published May 21 2018
Updated May 22 2018

Re: Proposed TECO Solar Plant

Opposed to the TECO solar plant

As a 21-year resident and property owner, I am writing in opposition to the proposed Tampa Electric Company solar plant in rural northeast Pasco County.

The solar plant will be .2 miles from my home. It will run 1.4 miles north-to-south and be on both sides of Blanton Road at various locations — literally overwhelming that beautiful area. The plant will obstruct long-established view sheds. Existing property owners in the area will have a solar plant either in their front yards or at their property lines.

The solar plant was approved by the Pasco County Planning Commission on April 9. I understand it is slated for Pasco County Commission action on June 5 in Dade City.

In their approval, the Planning Commission accepted the recommendation from the planning staff that a special exception applied, as this development was a sub-station. Also, that the solar panels (470,000 panels) would be an accessory to the sub-station.

In my opinion, logic was defied in this process as a sub-station cannot do anything by itself. It needs the solar panels, and the solar panels need the land. The land is zoned agricultural. What was approved was an industrial electrical generating plant, which is not allowed under the current zoning. Further, a close reading of Florida’s Right to Farm Act gives no relief to an interpretation that a solar farm is an agricultural activity.

Some have argued that by not allowing the owner(s) of the land this approval, their property rights are being taken from them. I do not want to have anyone’s rights infringed, but I think it is fair to ask that the existing land development code and comprehensive land use plan be followed.

My last comment relates to the uniqueness of this particular rural land. It has to be seen to be fully appreciated — with its beautiful rolling hills, mature oaks, wetland and wildlife. It is a rare site in Florida.

This is not a case of "not in my backyard." This industrial development does not belong in this location. No one out here is arguing against the efficacy of renewable resources.

Please note that hearings are now scheduled with the Board of County Commissioners to consider changing the land development code to allow "solar farms" anywhere in the county on land designated for agriculture. This is a broad issue which needs careful thought and consideration.

Charles D. Ashford, Dade City