Homeowners contest solar farm in public hearing

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Published: Aug. 10, 2022 at 10:43 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 11, 2022 at 10:05 AM EDT
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SUMTER, S.C. (WIS) - Residents of the Runnymede Subdivision received a public hearing before the Sumter City-County Board of Zoning Appeals this afternoon.

The appeal for Wednesday’s proceedings were filed by Runnymede homeowners in response to a 44.36-acre solar farm approved for development across the street from their neighborhood.

“We have major concerns about potential environmental damage to the area. We’re also concerned about the devaluation of our property... this project has been put forth with very little community input or engagement,” said Dr. Kendall Deas, a Runnymede resident who spoke to the board on Wednesday.

The public hearing was joined by affiliates of Soltage, LLC, the New Jersey-based solar company set to install the incoming farm. Staff say they operate ‘about’ 30 solar farms across North and South Carolina.

Soltage, LLC established a subsidiary company named after the neighborhood opposing them, Runnymede Solar, LLC. According to staff, they have entered a 40-year lease across the street from Dr. Deas’ neighborhood.

“Soltage will seek to be a good neighbor. We design well engineered, low impact, efficient solar farms. We have excellent operations and maintenance, personnel and staff that will maintain the project long-term,” said Jonathan Roberts, Vice President of Development for Soltage, LLC.

Roberts was joined by a team of experts to address key concerns voiced by Runnymede residents at Wednesday’s hearing.

In response to testimony provided, the board modified the original development plan. Now, Soltage, LLC must ensure the incoming solar panels are covered from view with fence and vegetation.

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