To the editor:

My name is Maribeth Uralrith. I live in Highland County in the village of Lynchburg. I am writing to ask the community for help concerning the village of Lynchburg to halt the three prospective solar projects that will surround the village on three sides.

I am an adjunct professor at a community college. I have a master’s degree in education and two B.A.s and I only lack one class form having a third B.A. I have taught over 25 years and the last 14 being in higher education. I am also a published writer with over 275 articles in newspapers, inserts and magazines.

I was born and raised in Highland County and Lynchburg. My ancestors have lived in the Lynchburg area for generations with one section residing in Lynchburg dating back to the late 1700s. The blood, sweat and tears of my ancestors are engrained in the soil of the land here. This community is a historical community.

A large Shawnee Native American encampment was here, and the Shawnee Chief Tecumseh stayed here often. Simon Kenton and his men along with settlers from Lynchburg participated in the “Battle of Lynchburg,” (Battle of East Fork) with Tecumseh and the Shawnee tribe. There also was a Shaker settlement here as well as Civil War Union soldiers' regiments. The ground has many historical artifacts found – and many yet to be found.

Some feel that we (rural Highland County) are just a bunch of "hicks." But this "hick," as you can see from above, is educated. The multiple proposed solar projects that are proposed to surround Lynchburg on three sides will destroy this area and community. I am not over exaggerating or commenting without research. The research is insurmountable and so much so it would be hard to detail it in this email/letter. I know there are two sides to every story, but allowing these solar projects to come into our community will be devastating for us.

I have asked these questions listed below to those who are for huge solar projects that take away the farmland. For us, if these projects go through, we will have not much farmland left. We will become a solar junkyard.

The questions I have are the following:

• How would you like to have your community surrounded by these farms running the risk of potentially becoming a solar desert? Three thousand to 4,0000 acres surrounding Lynchburg are to be taken up with the solar projects. One contract from one company states in a clause that if the solar company abandons the project, because they have put $500 for approximately per six acres, they do not have to do the cleanup and the cleanup falls back on the owner. Can these owners afford that clean up? No way, it would cost thousands upon thousands of dollars to do so, and the owners would have to be multi-millionaires to do that. Logic only tells us that if they inserted this clause, the likelihood of abandoning it in the future is highly likely. So not only we, the current generation, but multiple generations after us will be living in a solar panel junkyard.

• How would you, if you are a hunter, like not to be able to hunt in your area anymore because all the animals will be rerouted and not be able to travel through because of the chain-link, barbed-wire fencing? The deer, turkeys etc. will no longer be able to migrate through. Not only that, but we have multiple breeding pairs of the American Bald Eagle, a protected species, that hunts on the proposed field on Rammel and Anderson roads. I have seen this myself and have visual proof of it. Outside of town, we have a Ducks Unlimited wetland sanctuary which is only one road away from a proposed solar field. We also have a protected wildlife area named Oldaker one road from a proposed solar panel field.

• How would you like after years and years of building up the equity in your home and property having it plummet because of these fields? Logically, can anyone really believe that property values won’t plummet? The research shows from other areas that it does. It is not logical to believe that this won’t happen. No one wants to be surrounded by these things. I know of some of the landowners in the area who have said that they will lease out and then move away because they themselves do not want to live near them. This is all about greed because that is the only thing the “owners” gain from this – nothing but money.

• How would you and your family like to be exposed to the elevated health risk from them? The chemicals used to maintain the panels, which can contribute to a higher chance of causing cancer, can contribute to the risk of contaminating the water supply. The panels themselves also contribute to an elevation of sun rays barreling down the surrounding areas.

• How would you like see the beautiful fields taken away and destroyed by these solar panels?

• Why should my property have devaluation, why should my health be in jeopardy, why should my community and village be destroyed? Why should my rural lifestyle be taken away, why should I not have a right to a vote? Why should my well-being be destroyed so these landowners and solar companies can have financial gain?

• Why is my life so less valuable than the citizens in large cities and companies who want “greener energy” and if you do the research, in truth they are not “greener” or a better resource for energy? Why should the land here be destroyed so companies like Amazon can have a certain agenda fulfilled? Why should the land here be destroyed to supply energy to cities hundreds if not thousands of miles away?

• Where do our rights and our pursuit of happiness come into play? Are we to be sacrificed for the big corporation agendas? Where do my rights come into play? Why should my homeland, my community, my village be destroyed at the expense of residents of a larger city? This is the United States of America. Where is my right to vote on this issue?

• Why are large cities allowed to walk all over smaller villages? Do they have more rights as Americans than we do in Highland County? Are their lives more valuable than ours? And what of the historical significance of this community? This county and the community of Lynchburg has a high level of historical significance, not only locally, but with the state and yes, the nation.

We need community support to halt each of these three projects. We also need to be able to vote on the issue. This is America. This issue is much larger than the rights of property owners doing whatever they want on their land. If an owner can do anything they want on their land, then why are there zoning laws and eminent domain?

This issue affects thousands of people. Thank you.

Sincerely,
Maribeth Uralrith
Lynchburg