Solar project will negatively affect county

We are writing to express our concern about the Painter Creek Solar Project and Apex Energy as we reside within the proposed project, and it directly affects our property in Darke County.

Please understand we are very aware of the global challenge humanity faces related to climate change and the need to reduce carbon emissions. However, the long-term question is whether the Painter Creek Solar Project and Apex Energy are the right solution for Darke County, Ohio. We think not.

Here’s why:

· First and foremost, the negative impact upon the people of Darke County and their health, well-being, and lifestyle. Aesthetically, fields of solar energy panels are not pretty. Imagine walking your dog and instead of seeing rows of corn or soybeans and listening to bird song, you will see the glare of panels, hear the hum of transformers, and feel the heat generated. Imagine hunting deer to supplement food for your family — what happened to the game in the area? Game trails will be disrupted. Darke Countians’ lifestyles will change.

· Negative impact upon agriculture. The definition of a farm is “an area of land and its buildings used for growing crops and rearing animals, typically under the control of one owner or manager.” No matter how you look at it, a solar farm is not a farm. It’s a commercial business. It also negatively impacts our granaries, farm supply companies, crop-dusters and the like. What about the future of farming and agriculture? There are many new options coming — vertical farming, robots, temperature and moisture sensors, and GPS technology, that will allow farmers to be profitable, efficient, safe, and environmentally friendly. If we as Darke Countians tie up our land for 30-plus years in a commercial business, we just may miss out on some of the most exciting agricultural innovations of our time.

· Reduction of farming will affect generations to come. Children of farmers will no longer want to be in 4H, no longer want to take over the family farm, and will move out of the county more than they do currently. Thus, it will lead to lost revenues. And it will impact the Great Darke County Fair — one of the county’s gems — with a potential result of being like every other carnival in Ohio.

· Negative effect upon Darke County property values, specifically Culbertson, Folkerth, White Oak, and Aten Roads — a cluster of over 30 homes. Realtors will have a hard time convincing buyers the view and lifestyle of Darke County is worth it. The impact doesn’t stop with these 30 homes, it affects other homes in Darke County and especially in Greenville, Van Buren and Neave Townships.

· Negative impact upon local wildlife. Deer, rabbits, raccoons, groundhogs, snakes, frogs, birds, birds of prey like the bald eagle, red-tail hawk, and Cooper’s hawk, insects, fox, mink, coyote, and more call this area home.

· Apex Energy came into the county and began talking to a few. As a result, it pit family against family, neighbor against neighbor. We were offered an opportunity for panels on our ground; however we could not impact our neighbors so negatively. Fourteen other homeowners would have had no say if we choose to contract with Apex. It just isn’t right. Is this the type of corporate neighbor we want in Ohio?

These are just a few of the reasons why we challenge our elected officials to look deeper. We know our county and township officials carry a heavy burden for our county and its people. Money promised by Apex for Greenville is attractive. However, money isn’t everything. The stakes of our future are high, and we ask that you evaluate the Darke County Codes carefully and expediently.

Charlie and Joyce Conrad

Greenville, Ohio

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