There are two known potential solar projects in South Brown County at this time, Radian Solar and Mustang Mountaineer Solar. A third is in very early stages of planning in East Brown County near Zephyr. Landowners from other areas of the County have also notified us of being contacted by companies interested in their areas for solar.
Currently, two solar projects each are planned to cover approximately 3,000 acres or 4 to 5 square miles. Over 1 million solar panels will be installed on each. Combined the two proposed projects will cover approximately 6,000 acres and up to 8 to 10 square miles with over 2 million solar panels. Both projects have also submitted much larger Reinvestment Zones for future expansion that take the total land available for these and future projects to over 14,000 acres.
This is our home. It is a beautiful piece of the Texas Hill Country. Brown County is a place where we can raise our families and build a life for ourselves. We have a responsibility to protect our county's environment and quality of life from those that would change it forever. We are opposed to solar tax abatements that would not improve our County or its residents' lives. We do not believe the County should provide subsidies to large corporations that do not bring jobs and economic growth to its taxpayers. We also believe that approval of a tax abatement would result in Brown County becoming a target for wind and solar. We don't want to see our home turned into a vast landscape of solar panels and wind turbines.
A Property Tax Abatement is an investment our County makes with our Property Taxes, i.e. our money. The objective of a tax abatement is to encourage economic and job growth in a specific town or county. Using an abatement to entice a manufacturing company or a retail business to open in Brown County would result in jobs and those workers would buy houses, cars, groceries, clothes, etc. all in our area; thus spurring economic growth.
Solar property tax abatements do not deliver on these objectives. The current proposed project will deliver 2 full-time jobs and will not provide any on-going economic growth benefits to the county. Conversely it will make Brown County less appealing for investment from the outside and will inhibit our economic growth. We do not believe our taxes should be used to fund $500M+ for solar projects that provides so little benefit to our residents and landowners.
There will be Innocent landowners hurt if this project is built. Through no choice of their own, they will see their marketability and values decline. They will lose the enjoyment of their property by being forced to live next to a sea of 1 million mirrors, each with a motor rotating the panels several times a day. Brown County property values have steadily increased and Brown County and Brownwood have benefited. We're seeing economic revitalization downtown and new businesses opening. All of this would be put at risk if Brown County allows wind and solar to proliferate here.
This project will not benefit the County but it will hurt our neighbors. We must protect our County and towns by saying no to solar and wind that would derail our economic and job growth.
Brown County is being watched by the solar and wind industry.
Saying yes to a tax abatement will send a message to the wind and solar
companies that Brown County is open to this practice. Our Commissioners
have already indicated that saying yes to one will make it harder to
say no to the next. This is not just about one project. Already the Brookesmith ISD has approved an application for a second solar project, Mustang Mountaineer. There is no indication that this will stop with just these two and both have a much larger approved Reinvestment Zone which may be used for future expansion. We also have been notified by landowners of a project in the early planning stages in the Zephyr area and we have become aware of other landowners receiving inquiries from renewable companies representing interest in their areas. This is not about one project, it is about starting something that we can't stop that will forever change where we live.
If Brown County Commissioners say Yes to this tax abatement, the solar and wind industry will see that Brown is willing to provide tax abatements. Brown County will become a target for more projects. Brookesmith ISD has already approved two applications for solar projects.
Construction of a solar installation requires clear cutting and minimization of all vegetation on all of the land where panels will be placed. All native trees, plants and grasses will be removed and for at least the next 35 years the ground will be maintained to keep plant life to a minimum. As a result, much wildlife in this area will be displaced. There is also concern in the community about damaged solar panels leaching chemicals into the ground. This, along with potentially modifying our creeks and ponds to accommodate solar panel installation, could change our ground water and potentially impact our wells. We also are concerned with how 8 miles of contiguous solar panels will affect migratory birds, Monarch Butterfly migration and other species.
With the currently proposed projects, we are faced with the potential for 8 to 10 square miles of continuous land in Brown County being clear cut and managed to minimize vegetation growth for at least the next 35 to 50 years. The long-term impact to native trees and grasses, ground water, erosion, wildlife displacement and flyways for birds are all concerns we cannot ignore nor risks we can take.
Under Texas Chapter 312 of the property tax code, County Commissioners can evaluate tax abatements and are asking for public input. However, not until 30 days prior to their final vote must they notify the public of what is about to occur. These are our elected officials who should represent the wishes of their constituents. Our Commissioners are asking for public input. It is vitally important that every resident contact their commissioner to let them know how they feel about giving our tax base away to multi-billion dollar corporations.
Precinct 1: Gary Worley
Precinct 2: Joe Kelton
Precinct 3: Wayne Shaw
Precinct 4: Larry Traweek
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