Letter — Good governance matters

Published 6:17 pm Thursday, October 21, 2021

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I am writing to clarify a few points in the article “Solar controversy continues” published Oct. 1. I am the CEO of SolUnesco, the Randolph Solar developer, and a property owner in Charlotte County.

We recognize that Supervisors Pierantoni and Fore’s statements provided the source material for the article. These two supervisors vehemently oppose the Randolph Solar project and publicly attack those who disagree with their views on solar. I want to offer an alternative perspective.

At the Aug. 9 Board of Supervisors meeting, which three out of seven supervisors were unavailable to attend, Supervisors Pierantoni and Fore rejected the Planning Commission’s recommendation. They instead advanced a last-minute proposal submitted by a citizen, Rodney Moon, for alternative (“stricter”) setbacks. The Planning Commission spent over four months deliberating and receiving extensive public input before forwarding their recommendation to the Board. In contrast, the Planning Commission did not review nor deliberate on the “Citizen Moon proposal.” Supervisor Pierantoni later admitted that she worked on this proposal (found in the Sept. 13 Board meeting audio recording just after the 4:37 mark).

During the August Board meeting, Supervisors Pierantoni and Fore hijacked the process by moving to hold a public hearing on the Rodney Moon setbacks. The Pierantoni and Fore motion passed on a 2-1 vote (three Board members absent and one Board abstention). Voting on such a controversial topic with three Board members absent perverts the county ordinance process. Supervisors Fore and Pierantoni further circumvented the Planning Commission by sending Mr. Moon’s proposal directly to a Board of Supervisors Public Hearing without any input from the Planning Commission. I ask all Charlotte County citizens if they are comfortable with the following process. Mr. Moon, Supervisors Pierantoni and Fore attempted to change the County’s ordinance by overriding the Planning Commission’s public process.

Good governance prevailed. At its Sept. 13 meeting, the Board voted against Mr. Moon’s proposals and adopted the Planning Commission’s recommendations for two reasons. First, the Board recognized the Planning Commission’s extensive and deliberate consideration of the alternatives. Second, Citizen Moon’s proposal created overly complex and unworkable setbacks that would kill future solar investment in Charlotte County. The adoption of the Planning Commission’s recommendations will impose a minimum requirement on all solar projects while providing the County and solar developers the flexibility to address project-specific needs for setbacks. Good public policy provides flexibility and decision-making authority to the judgment of those in the best position to achieve the policy’s objectives.

As one of several developers working with the County, I am disappointed to see legitimate debate on policy differences turn into false accusations and personal attacks on social media. Good governance matters, and it can only happen when elected leaders actively and collaboratively seek positive, constructive solutions and do so transparently. Thankfully, as we saw at the Sept. 13 meeting, a majority of supervisors do believe in working for the common good of Charlotte County.

SolUnesco is grateful for the opportunity to make Randolph Solar a reality, and we are proud of our community engagement. We encourage citizens to remain engaged in this process and hold our leaders accountable for good governance, enabling future economic development opportunities.

Francis Hodsoll

SolUnesco CEO