Ron Butler – July, 2021
Across Virginia there is a battle taking place between landowners and government officials. I’m not talking about government overreach we see from liberals at the federal or state level. This is coming from a faction of so-called conservatives in government at the local level. While conservatives typically are on the side of Constitutional rights, some are turning their backs on these fundamental principles by passing ordinances blocking landowners from creating solar or wind farms to generate electricity.
While it is appropriate for counties and cities to have reasonable ordinances that protect the common good of the community, they also must respect the freedom and rights of the individual, including property rights.
This week the Augusta County Planning Commission voted on a proposal that would have put severe restrictions on solar farms, even areas zone for future industrial uses. Conservatives for Clean Energy – Virginia sent letters to the planning commission urging them to oppose these restrictions. In a win for the Constitutional rights of property owners the planning commission voted 5-1 not to adopt this anti-solar, anti-property rights legislation.
Covering the Augusta meeting the News Virginian wrote, “Donna Miller, who together with her brother works a 700-acre farm in Grottoes, said farming is hard work and financially stressful. She and her brother are getting older and want to retire. With no immediate family member wanting to take over the farm operations, solar presents a viable alternative that allows them to retire and keep the land in the family.”
A hundred miles south in Pittsylvania County local leaders like Supervisor Ben Farmer have also stood up and defended the rights of property owners who want to use their land for solar. In the Star-Tribune Farmer said, “It helps everyone out. We collect more taxes compared to the land-use. I voted for this, and I still believe today that it is the right of a property owner to do what they want with their land. If something is built legally and per code, every property owner has the right to do so. That’s how I felt when I voted and I feel that same way today.”
The importance of private property rights is clear to anyone who studies the American founding documents. In the minds of the Framers, property rights were indispensable to the success of America and a fundamental role of government was to protect these property rights of individuals.
Founding father John Adams said of private property rights, “Property must be secured or liberty cannot exist.” Likewise Virginian James Madison wrote in The Federalist, that government is instituted no less for the protection of property than people or individuals.
Conservatives for Clean Energy – Virginia serves as a voice for the many conservatives who want to protect their property rights while expanding the availability of clean energy sources in Virginia.