Darlington County residents against proposed solar farm

It was a packed house at Tuesday night's Darlington County Planning Commission meeting. Nearly every seat was filled as people wanted to make sure they were heard regarding a proposed solar farm in their community.
It was a packed house at Tuesday night's Darlington County Planning Commission meeting. Nearly every seat was filled as people wanted to make sure they were heard regarding a proposed solar farm in their community.

DARLINGTON, SC (WBTW) – It was a packed house at Tuesday night’s Darlington County Planning Commission meeting. Nearly every seat was filled as people wanted to make sure they were heard regarding a proposed solar farm in their community.

“They wanna install a solar farm directly in front of our house,” Hal Johnson said. He said that is the last thing he and his family want to see when they look out the front door.

“We were kinda surprised a little bit,” he said.

Johnson isn’t the only one against the plan put forward by Innovative Solar Systems, LLC. The company wants to put up to 100,000 solar panels on 185 acres in the Byrdtown Community of Hartsville, according to planning commissioners.

Johnson said he’s concerned the planned solar farm will not only be an eyesore, but also a danger to his family.

“These solar panels contain toxic material,” he explained.

A representative for Innovate Solar Systems said that the chemicals commonly found inside these panels–including cadmium and mercury–will not leak, and will not be a danger to the community.

Johnson said that with so many lakes and rivers nearby, he’s not so sure.

“We’re concerned with the type of runoff that goes in and feeds all the ponds and local waterways in our neighborhood,” Johnson said.

Planning commissioners were not as concerned, but did vote to amend the plan to include trees and other barriers to make sure Johnson and his neighbors don’t just see solar panels when they look out the window.

Commissioners also made sure to include a decommission plan–to make sure that if the company leaves the county, someone will clean up–something Johnson was also concerned about.

“What’s gonna happen in 30 years when this solar farm is no longer viable?” asked Johnson. “Who’s gonna get rid of all this material; who’s gonna be in charge of making sure the land gets back to the way it was before?”

Next up, the plan for the farm–as well as the recommendations of the planning commission made Tuesday night–will go to the full council for a first reading at its next meeting on October 3rd. 

Another public hearing will be held before the second reading of the ordinance which will likely take place at the council’s November 7th meeting.

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