Solar farm proposal: Dover residents raise health, property value concerns in opposition

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The Dover Township Zoning Board continued a vote Wednesday night on a special use exemption for an 800-acre solar farm that would spread east of Route 74 in the area of Canal Road.

This meeting was already a continuation after the last hearing, held Dec. 16, which was attended by more than 50 community members who voiced their opposition to the project.

Wednesday night's meeting again had a large turn out of people all eager to ask questions and express concerns.

The second session of the zoning hearing for the Dover Solar Project was held at the Dover Area Middle School on Wednesday, January 19.
The second session of the zoning hearing for the Dover Solar Project was held at the Dover Area Middle School on Wednesday, January 19.

Angie Ziggler-Yuengling, who said she has been in real estate for 43 years, brought up concerns about the humming noise from solar farms. She said that, per her own research, the consistent noise from a solar farm has been shown to cause “anxiety, depression, miscarriages” and more.

She said that if those who own property around where the farm would be built “had any sense at all, they’d sell their property immediately.”

“How could you do this to us?” she asked the zoning board.

Citizens brought, questions, comments, concerns and ideas to the zoning board and Enel team. Enel team members like Brittany Staszak (right) fielded dozens of questions.
Citizens brought, questions, comments, concerns and ideas to the zoning board and Enel team. Enel team members like Brittany Staszak (right) fielded dozens of questions.

Melanie Mantegna was also concerned about potential health issues the farm could cause.

“We’re already being poisoned with 5G,” she said. “You’re not going to poison us with your crap.”

Mantegna held up a stack of papers she claimed were government documents that prove “coronavirus came from 5G." She also said she had a video of Bill Gates admitting to these claims, but the board declined to watch it.

David Jones, the lawyer for Enel, said the company "categorically has no connection to Bill Gates.”

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Several people asked about the noise and impact of the electromagnetic field the farm would produce.

“The primary sources of electric and magnetic fields outside the Dover Solar site will be the power lines connecting the Project substation to the switchyard and the switchyard to the existing transmission line," Managing Scientist for Exponent Dr. Amy Williams said in a prepared statement. "Because these sources are so far from residences on East Canal Street and the levels of fields decline rapidly with distance, the Project is not expected to increase the field levels at those residences compared to existing sources or outside the typical range measured in residences.”

Citizens brought, questions, comments, concerns and ideas to the zoning board and Enel team. Enel team members like Brittany Staszak (left) fielded dozens of questions.
Citizens brought, questions, comments, concerns and ideas to the zoning board and Enel team. Enel team members like Brittany Staszak (left) fielded dozens of questions.

Project members from Enel have said that most homes would be 75 or 100 feet or more from the Dover Solar Farm.

Williams is a board-certified toxicologist with over 20 years experience in the field of toxicology.

Other community members asked about the chemicals contained in solar panels.

“Solar panels contain solid or crystalline materials; they do not contain liquids that can leak. Scientific studies have shown that chemicals do not leach from properly installed and functioning solar panels into the environment, even from events such as storms or fires. Further, damaged solar panels pass the EPA’s Toxic Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP) test which is used for evaluating the potential for a hazardous material to leach into groundwater, meaning the material is considered non-hazardous," principal scientist and the Director of Exponent’s Ecological and Biological Sciences William Goodfellow said in a prepared statement.

Goodfellow has more than 35 years of experience in environmental toxicology.

Mary Hamm was concerned about glare from the solar panels causing car wrecks. Project manager Brittany Staszak said that the Federal Aviation Administration had performed a glare test and determined that the glare from a solar farm was not hazardous, but the test was for aircraft, not motor vehicles.

Several other people asked questions about property values.

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Richard Kirkland, owner of Kirkland Appraisals, said that his organization conducted 12 years of studies across 20 states and 850 solar farms that showed property values did not decrease because of solar farms being constructed near them, and that some showed that property values increased.

Enel went before the zoning board to request a special use exemption, which would allow agricultural land to be used as a solar field. It is identified as an exemption because solar power is not addressed in standard zoning guidelines.

Enel worked with the Dover Township board of supervisors to create a solar ordinance, which was adopted in March of 2021. Those ordinances limit things such as the height of solar panels and how close they can be placed next to a residence.

According to project engineers, the project meets or exceeds the outlined ordinances.

Enel has created long-term rental agreements and easements with 11 landowners to use their property for 30 to 40 years. Company officials said the project would have a capacity of producing around 75 megawatts of solar energy and preventing 80,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year.

Staszak said the solar field would also keep the land agriculturally viable because the company plans to re-vegetate the site with a mix of various native plants. Once the lease is up, the owners can begin farming the land again.

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Enel plans to sell the energy generated from the farm to a larger company in a power purchasing agreement. The farm would create $1.7 million in tax revenue and 330 jobs during construction, according to project officials.

“Our analysis shows that the proposed Dover Solar project would make a positive and significant economic contribution to York County and Dover Township. That contribution would come from three primary sources," Founder and CEO of Mangum Economics Fletcher Mangum said in a prepared statement.

Those sources would be the initial construction on the project, on-going economic activity associated with the operating the solar farm and the tax revenue that the project would provide for York County, the Dover Township and the Dover Area School District, according to Mangum.

Enel is developing one other project in York County, the Strinestown Solar Project on 550 acres near Conewago Township, which has received conditional approval and is set to begin operations in 2023.

"I don't like using this word, but can we use them (the residents living near the Strinestown project) as guinea pigs since they got approved and don't have any other choice? Can we study any affects for at least 5 years?" Mantegna asked the board.

Staszak said Enel hopes to have the Dover project operational by 2023.

This article originally appeared on York Daily Record: Zoning Board continues vote for Dover Solar Project

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