Solar field proponents sue county
August 27, 2015
Minden, Nev. — Douglas County's denial of a solar power generation facility on Park Cattle land north of Muller Lane has been challenged in district court.
Greenstone Renewables is seeking judicial review of county commissioners' July 2 decision to uphold an appeal of a special use permit granted by the Douglas County Planning Commission.
Cited in the lawsuit were neighbors of the proposed project, Genoa residents Steve and Mary Walker, who are lobbyists for Douglas and several other Western Nevada entities.
In the lawsuit, Greenstone points out that the county approved the legislation on Sept. 4, and that the ordinance was consistent with the master plan.
A month after the approval of the ordinance, Greenstone entered into a lease with Park Cattle for seven parcels totaling 268 acres, adjacent to an 82-acre effluent pond and a electrical substation.
Greenstone entered into an agreement with Liberty Utilities to serve customers in the California portion of Lake Tahoe from a 20 megawatt generation plant. That plant would cover half the property, which could produce another 20 megawatts.
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According to the court documents, Greenstone and the Walkers met in mid-February and Steve Walker said they didn't like the proposal, but they would not oppose it as long as the developer planted a vegetative screen.
The lawsuit says that on March 5, the same day county commissioners rejected a similar solar farm in the East Valley, the Walkers' attorney contacted Greenstone via email also seeking 10 percent of their property value up front, estimated at $1.28 million to $1.35 million.
The next day, the Walkers' attorney contacted Greenstone to say they were opposing the project.
Greenstone accused the county of allowing the Walkers to continue to file material after the deadline for their appeal.
In its court documents, Greenstone said the county acted "arbitrarily and capriciously when it upheld the Walker appeal."
Greenstone is seeking to overturn the county's denial or a writ ordering the county to deny the Walker appeal.
The project was the subject of a campaign that included advertising and direct mail pieces which used photos of other facilities imposed on the field by Photoshop.
According to the lawsuit, the images were displayed so that it appeared that the solar panels were on the property line, when they actually weren't.
Before hearing the Greenstone appeal, county commissioners approved a moratorium on solar panel facility requests for 180 days, which could be extended for another 180 days.
Greenstone is asking a judge to rule that moratorium cannot be applied to their project.