Letter: It could happen to you

Dear Editor,

It could happen to you. You could build or purchase a lovely home in a rural area and pay your school and property taxes faithfully for decades, believing your backyard will remain a private, safe, and secure place to raise a family and live for a lifetime.

Then, on the neighboring property, without preamble or precedent, contracts with an upstate energy company to erect 15 acres of solar panels within 50 feet of your property line comes along. You receive a letter from Delaware River Solar informing you that a project is slated to border your property.  

You are then invited to the Town of Tioga planning board meeting where DRS will answer questions. You attend that meeting with two-dozen neighbors and learn that you have very little “legal” influence in the final decision, so you should just negotiate concessions. 

Still, you put forth an 80-signature petition discouraging this solar construction and you raise the following concerns:   

-Two businesses share thousands of feet of boundary with the intended project. One is a Nature School that relies on the habitat, animal patterns, and watershed to remain pure and natural. The other is a Therapeutic Massage studio needing a serene environment to serve aged and disabled clients in suffering and stress. 

-Residents on the boundary who work from home will be impacted by noise and traffic during the 6-month building process, and every home will face the visually depressing view for 30 years or more.

-Nearby drilled wells and the aquifer for many square miles could be at risk from toxic and carcinogenic compounds leached into the water supply if and when the solar panels crack from severe weather, age or bad workmanship, or from natural causes.  

-Reputable university research shows that home values within one-tenth mile of a solar facility decrease in value up to 7%, and those up to even a mile away can devalue up to 1.7%. 

-The site is a hunting area for birds of prey and a known nesting site and habitat for grassland-dependent birds recently threatened and reduced in numbers.

-Property adjoining the site is a certified Wildlife Habitat for native flora and fauna and host to large organic garden beds, all at risk from potential use of herbicides, pesticides and VOC chemical aerosols used in solar construction / maintenance.

It could happen to you. It has happened at a half-dozen sites around the county. The Citizens for Responsible Solar group notes, ”Solar belongs on rooftops, near highways, commercial, industrial-zoned land, marginal or contaminated areas, and not on rural-agricultural land.”

If there is no mechanism to ensure careful placement of these solar facilities, it could happen to you!  


Michael and Sheryl Head

Ballou Road, Owego, N.Y. 

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