Controversial plan for large solar farm near Culpeper to be reworked

After sustained opposition from March through late August 2019 by a local group to a utility scale solar project proposed for the agricultural and forested areas surrounding Raccoon Ford, the developer, BayWa, pulled the application. This development occurred shortly after the citizens’ group had gathered in Raccoon Ford to review their efforts and learn more about the area’s significance from a local historian.

Below is an excerpt of an article by journalist Clint Schemmer on the meeting and application withdrawal. The article was originally printed in the Culpeper Star Exponent; a link is provided after the excerpt for a full look at the article.

RAPIDAN — People from across Culpeper County and Virginia came to the Raccoon Ford area Sunday evening to advance their campaign against a 1,600-acre power-generating facility proposed there.

And in less than 24 hours, California-based solar developer BayWa yanked its application for permission to build a multimillion-dollar, utility-scale solar plant on farmland and woodland near the Rapidan River.

Coincidence? Surely. But heartening, still, to members of Citizens for Responsible Solar and their guests, as well as the tour’s hosts — the Foshay family of historic Greenville plantation. They’d come to rally their spirits in anticipation of weeks of intense work before the county planning commission held a public hearing on BayWa’s proposal.

Ron Maxwell, director of the Civil War films “Gettysburg,” “Gods and Generals” and “Copperhead,” encouraged those present to continue their efforts to protect historic lands from incursions such as solar development.

The complete article can be read here.

Solar project threatens historic mansions, landscapes along Rapidan River

On June 30, 2019, the Culpeper Star Exponent published an article describing the impact a proposed 1300-acre utility-scale solar project would have on the antebellum properties surrounding Raccoon Ford.

An excerpt:

RACCOON FORD—Before war came, Congressman and secessionist Jeremiah Morton designed three mansions along a few miles of Algonquin Trail in southern Culpeper County.

The stately homes withstood armies’ fighting, encampment and occupation during the Civil War, and still stand today. Restored by their owners, they have storied pasts and anchor former plantations near the Rapidan River, named by a Colonial governor for Queen Anne of England.

Farmland surrounds the graceful houses—Greenville, Struan and Sumerduck—in an area on the Rapidan that’s mostly untouched by time and steeped in early history, including that of Indians and African-Americans. The countryside also yields many accounts from the War Between the States.

“Where else in the country do you have a Civil War laboratory like this? Nothing has changed,” Civil War historian Clark “Bud” Hall said during a visit to the mansions of Algonquin Trail.

Change could be coming, though, as county officials consider allowing a utility-scale solar plant to be built on 807 acres of agriculturally zoned parcels along the rural route.

Cricket Solar LLC, the project’s developer in Irvine, California, says the green initiative will generate enough electricity to power 15,000 homes a year.

The Culpeper County Planning Department is reviewing revisions to an application submitted in December by Cricket that would place more than 270,000 solar panels in the Raccoon Ford area.

Read the full article