To the editor: Many of us under the age of 70 who do not have the time to go to Annapolis and listen to the Public Service Commission determine the conversion of a whole farm into a solar field.
It is difficult, without invoking Maryland Open Meeting laws for the individual citizen to assess what is going on. Under normal land use regulation situations it is not very difficult to read the minutes from either Kent County or Chestertown. I have not wasted the energy needed to research this issue.
Our farm is not inclined to suggest operational decisions to other landholders. We too have been contacted by agents of a large energy distribution company to place solar panels on our land. I tell them we'd rather have a big windmill as it would take up less acreage.
The last inquiry we received offering a lease for solar emplacement that would pay eight times per acre per year for 20 years came in the middle of Kent County laboriously adjusting the nitty gritty details of their land use regulation ordinances.
In that process I indicated that our farm would like to be able to, with limits, lease land to commercially produce electricity on our land in the future.
That future, I hope, would come after Kent County — through our rural electrical cooperative — had developed a smart grid based on newly developing "distributed grid" technologies. There is a wealth of information out there.
As I stated, our farm indicated an interest in being able to place renewable energy, either wind or solar, here in the future. The last company wanted to "limit" their solar field to one half of our 210 acres of tillable land.
I told them three things:
1. This is Kent County. You do the permit applications. Good luck!
2. You can perhaps do this with as much as 10% of that land.
3. We don't want to see it from our house which happens to be on the National Register of Historic Places.
I have also been apprised that since tourism, along with agriculture, makes up the bulk of our economic development planning, nobody wants to look at solar panels from the road.
Maryland's Smart Growth laws require municipalities and counties to coordinate comprehensive plans where they abut on another, such as on Morgnec Road. There may also be some historic designations by the Town of Chestertown of "scenic gateways" to the approaches to town that mandate aesthetic screening landscaping.
I am not paid to think hard on this anymore — wait, I have never been paid to think very hard around here! It was 2005 when I finished my 15 years — five as chair — on the Chestertown Planning Commission.
Ken Hepburn Noble
Shepherd's Delight Farm