Neighbors’ appeal to stop Greene County solar farm is denied

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GREENE COUNTY, TN (WJHL) – Emotions ran high in Greene County Wednesday morning as neighbors pleaded for the future of their communities.Previous story: Neighbors concerned with solar farm in Greene County

The Greene County Board of Zoning Appeals denied an appeal from neighbors aimed at stopping the installation of solar panels on about 100 acres of property in Chuckey.

When we first talked to Nell Vest last week she said she was worried, but now, “just devastated with this vote today,” Vest said.

The solar farm will back right up to her property, changing the view she’s had all of her life.

Down the road from Vest, in the Hensley Airpark Community is Nick Stone who said he moved here for the beautiful views.

When he caught wind about 100 acres of solar panels could be replacing the green grass he sees every day, “At first it was disbelief because it seemed so inappropriate for the area,” Stone said.

Building official Tim Tweed previously gave the company bringing in the solar panels, Birdseye Renewable Energy, the okay saying that is an appropriate use for the agricultural zone where the property is located.

But neighbors disagreed and appealed that decision.

“The ordinance says here is this list of things that we’ll allow and solar farms are not listed,” Nik Vaselopulos, attorney for neighbors in the airpark community said.

“It does allow for other uses in there that’s not necessarily listed as far as being expressly defined,” Tweed said.

Only three members of the Board of Zoning Appeals voted on the issue, and by a 2:1 vote, the appeal was denied.

“It seemed like when we got in that room that words didn’t matter, what was written didn’t matter it was almost pre-ordained that is was going to go through,” Stone said.

“If solar farms can move in to this beautiful community, they can move in to any community,” Vest said.

We talked with the owner of Birdseye Renewable Energy, he tells us the company has already invested about 150,00 dollars in to the 25 million dollar project.

He said crews will likely start putting in the panels by the end of this year.

The attorney for the neighbors say they are considering appealing Wednesday’s decision in court.

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