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Solar farm denial upheld by judge

Douglas County commissioners were within their rights to deny a special use permit to an industrial solar generation plant in the middle of Carson Valley, a judge ruled last week.

District Judge Tod Young ruled against Greenstone Renewables from the bench on Thursday. Greenstone is seeking to overturn the county’s July 2015, decision.

Deputy District Attorney Zach Wadle, representing the county, argued the county had a right to decide where and whether a solar farm was an appropriate use.

The Greenstone project was denied under the previous ordinance, which was revised this year. Under the new ordinance, industrial solar generating plants may only be placed on forest and range parcels. That limits them to federal land in the county.

Greenstone attorney Sev Carlson argued that most of the arguments against the solar panel dealt with its visual impact, something Nevada law doesn’t recognize.

Carlson accused the county of denying Greenstone due process in making the decision.

“There were a set of rules in place when Greenstone applied for the permit,” he said. “The decision came down to visual impacts.”

Wadle pointed out that Greenstone brought up the visual impacts of the project themselves.

“They knew there was a visual impact and that it needed to be considered,” Wadle said.

County commissioners’ decision was based on an appeal by neighbors Steve and Mary Walker of the planning commission’s approval of the project.

Carlson argued that the county permitted the Walkers to submit additional information after the deadline for the appeal.

That information included the Valley Vision Plan, which Wadle pointed out was part of the county code.

“It would be the same as telling the court that it can only consider the laws I cite,” he said.

Greenstone may still appeal the decision to the Nevada Supreme Court.