BEND, OR -- It is not an argument against solar power; rather, where a proposed solar farm plants its roots. Both sides of a proposed solar farm in east Bend laid out concerns before a Deschutes County Hearings officer last night in Bend.
Cypress Creek Renewables wants to create two solar farms on the east edge of Bend, adjacent to Big Sky Park and several residences. The land is zoned Exclusive Farm Use, but state law allows solar farms with a conditional use permit. Jason Carr, with Cypress Creek Renewables, tells KBND, “A hearings officer might approve the applications with conditions; because neighbors don’t think it’s the right location there may be additional conditions requiring the company to further buffer and screen the project from the sight of nearby neighbors."
Cypress Creek presented plans to screen the solar farm with vegetation. But for Cathy Jensen, who lives next to the 118-acre parcel, that’s not enough. “Almost everyone in there agreed that solar is a good thing - well placed. We feel like their plan for screening the fence with trees is inadequate. There’s no water and the trees were schedule to be placed ten feet apart and for an upright Juniper that doesn’t cover the fence in any way.” She tells KBND, “I would prefer it is not there but I can tolerate it if it is set away from all the property lines. And I think that would be a minimum, a minimum setback of a 100-feet from their fence."
A decision is expected by the end of the month. If the solar farms are approved by the hearings officer, opponents say they plan to appeal to County Commissioners.