Walton County commissioners vote against solar panel farm

Published: Dec. 23, 2020 at 8:47 PM CST
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Walton County commissioners pulled the plug on a potential solar panel farm set to be built in northern Walton County.

At Tuesday’s county commission meeting, board members spent hours listening to comments from the community about Gulf Power’s proposed solar farm.

“This was a difficult decision, but at the end of the day we’re tasked to do what’s best for the people of the county, the most people,” said District 2 Commissioner Danny Glidewell.

David Herring owns property near the nearly 900-acre site Gulf Power wanted to build on and said the community would have lost valuable agricultural land had the project been approved.

“Walton County was funded, or grew on agriculture, that’s how Walton County began. We have to feed us, that’s the whole point of agriculture is to feed America,” said Herring.

Glidewell said another reason three of the five commissioners voted against the solar panels was fire safety concerns.

He said there’s no nearby fire department except the Liberty Volunteer Department.

“While the applicant [Gulf Power] made some verbal promises, there was nothing in writing that said they would help the fire department provide the specialized training and equipment that fighting that kind of fire would entail,” said Glidewell.

Glidewell added if any power company proposes a solar panel farm in the future, it will be looked at carefully to make sure it follows the land development code.

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