Opposition to a proposed large-scale solar project in Hartland has become organized as a grassroots group, with two members leading a write-in campaign for a council seat and the supervisor position.
Protect Our Rural Communities is a group of Hartland residents that has formed to express their opposition to the Ridge View Solar Energy Center, a 350-megawatt solar project that would take up 1,500 acres in Hartland and 500 acres in Newfane.
Barbara Outten, one of the leaders of the group, has asked for voters to write-in Mike Outten for supervisor and James Minner for councilman on ballots because she believes that the current supervisor Ross Annable and the town council are in favor of the project.
"He's very dismissive," Barbara Outten said of Annable.
She further added that the "council as a whole is not listening" and that's why they have decided to run the write-in candidates.
Protect Our Rural Communities has an information session planned for 7 p.m. on Monday at the Hartland Fire Hall, 8945 Ridge Road, to explain the the risks and hazards of industrial solar, with Charlie Fendt, a Homeland Security master certified exercise practitioner, planning to give a presentation.
Outten said some of her concerns about an industrial solar project include the damage it would cause to farmland and the pollution the panels might cause.
"Once you disturb prime farm land it's very difficult to remove it and go back to normal," Outten said.
Legislator David Godfrey, R-Wilson, who recently sponsored a resolution requiring decommissioning bonds before the county negotiates a PILOT with solar companies has previous told the Union-Sun & Journal that the closest landfill for solar panels is in Alabama.
Annable said Mike Outten and the group has been putting out disinformation about himself and the board. He mainly pointed to their claim that he and the board are completely for the solar project and are pushing for it in secret.
"We advertised it and had an open meeting," Annable said. "We want everybody in the town to be able to get educated."
Annable said at this point the board and him are neutral on it and would like to hear from the town residents about how they feel about the project.
"I'm not 100 percent sold on it," Annable said.
He noted that he wants to explore the potential revenue the project could bring in because it could help keep taxes stable and help fund the fire departments better.
"We're just trying to do our due diligence," Annable said.
Annable said another meeting is being held on Nov. 20 from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Hartland Fire Hall.