County rejects East Valley solar farm |

County rejects East Valley solar farm

East Valley residents packed Thursday's county commission meeting in opposition to a solar farm in their neighborhood.
Kurt Hildebrand |

Minden, Nev. — Even as county commissioners rejected a solar farm in an East Valley neighborhood, another project is starting through the system, this time on agricultural land between Muller and Genoa Lanes.

On Thursday, commissioners voted 4-1 to uphold a planning commission denial of a project located on Bently land at East Valley Road and Kathleen.

A score of neighbors turned out to protest the solar panel farm, which Commissioner Greg Lynn described as an industrial project placed in a residential neighborhood.

Proposed by E.ON Climate and Renewables, the 320-acre plant would produce up to 40 megawatts. Planning commissioners denied the project on Jan. 13. E.ON appealed the denial to county commissioners.

E.ON attorney Michael Pagni argued that the planning commissioners were in error when they denied the project because it had met all the requirements under the code.

However, Deputy District Attorney Cynthea Gregory, in a memo to commissioners, said that isn’t true.

“The … process would be rendered meaningless for solar photovoltaic faciliites if the project merely had to meet minimum design and development standards regardless of location.”

Resident Steve Figueroa told county commissioners that he has been told he has 10 years to live, and that he left the hospital to attend the meeting.

“Please, this is my life, I can’t be with dust or noise,” he said. “My doctors say this stress will kill me.”

Bently representative Carlo Luri said residents asked why the project had to be off East Valley.

“That’s a valid question,” he said. “It just can’t be placed anywhere. In addition, Bently is committed to not taking ag land out of production. This site once had an air strip and a hangar on it. We believe this air strip is for the greater good of the county.”

The Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce board of directors voted to support the project, with two abstaining and former Commissioner Dave Brady asking the board not take a position.

“From our point of view it appears that the project meets all the findings,” Executive Director Bill Chernock said.

Eldon Way resident Jan Heaton said she agreed with the concept of solar energy, but that the project needs to be in a proper location.

East Valley landowner Robert Hernandez said he’d purchased his property in 1989 to build a home out in the country.

“I’m going to retire and build a house, and they’re going to build an industrial electrical plant next to our property,” he said. “Everyone who bought out there did with the idea that they’d bought in a rural farm area.”

Lynn said it was Hernandez’ comment that summed up his opinion on the project.

“What you want is the clouds to part and the sun to shine down on the answer,” Lynn said. “In this particular case it did. One of the speakers provided the exact language. It’s an industrial electrical plant. It’s a factory. It might not be a particularly noisy factory, but this is an industrial use in a residential neighborhood, and there’s no way I can consider that. This is not compatible with the neighborhood it is being put in.”

On Tuesday, Douglas County Planning commissioners are scheduled to hear a request from Greenstone Renewables, who is proposing a 210-acre solar voltaic power plant behind the Minden-Gardnerville Sanitation District ponds located on Muller west of Highway 395.

The property stretches north from behind the ponds to within a half mile of Genoa Lane.

Staff is recommending approval of the project. According to the report, dense trees and brush are proposed for the project’s northern boundary to screen the site from Genoa Lane.