To the Editor:
WHY is KDC Solar, the Kirby Family Trust and Sanofi US, a French pharmaceutical giant, pursuing the decimation of environmentally sensitive and historic farmland, woodland, wetland and critical habitat in Bedminster, NJ to develop a 10MW industrial scale solar power plant in Bedminster’s rural residential zone?
WHY when New Jersey’s Energy Master Plan includes a goal to generate 4,430MW of electricity from solar energy by 2026 and using current technology, NJ would need approximately 7,680 acres of solar panels to meet that goal?
WHY when there are more than 500,000 acres of impervious surfaces in NJ, including parking lots, roof tops, closed landfills and brownfield sites available? Although not all impervious surfaces may be suitable for solar arrays, only 1.5% of the current impervious land cover is needed to meet NJ energy goals for 2026 and the amount of impervious coverage continues to grow as NJ population continues to grow.
The State of NJ is not creating any more agricultural land and in Bedminster, NJ agricultural lands decreased by 13% in the period from 1986 -2007. According to Rutgers University, New Jersey is projected to be the first state to reach build-out, which is expected to happen within the next 20 years. In that same period, Bedminster Township increased its high density development by 53%, adding 1200 acres of residential and commercial development.
In other words, while Bedminster is losing vital agricultural land – which is the historic use of the Kirby Farm -- the Sanofi US corporate campus in Bridgewater, NJ, has more than enough impervious cover to meet its solar energy production goals.
The appropriate use of the Kirby Farm is a use consistent with Bedminster’s Municipal Master Plan and Zoning Ordinances and the appropriate location for KDC Solar’s industrial scale solar power plant is on existing impervious surfaces on the Sanofi US commercial site.
To answer the question posed in the first paragraph, why are KDC Solar, the Kirby Family Trust and Sanofi US pursuing the destruction of the environment, arguably to save it; because, although they all advocate for sustainability, they are all first and foremost profit motivated, with the environment taking a back seat to greed.
KDC Solar has proposed the decimation of large swaths of forested lands throughout New Jersey, e.g., its proposed solar projects in Jackson Township, Hillsborough Township and Bedminster Township; is that environmental sustainability? No.
Sanofi US has more than sufficient impervious surfaces at its campus in Bridgewater to site the solar panels, yet they are part of this consortium to decimate environmentally sensitive land in Bedminster; is that environmental sustainability? No.
Of the three entities involved in the Bedminster proposal, the Kirby family is the biggest disappointment. The Kirbys are a generous, philanthropic family, yet they view their farm in Bedminster strictly as investment property, not as environmentally sensitive land; is that environmental sustainability? No.
Greed is the basis for the KDC Solar/Kirby/Sanofi fight in Bedminster; “greedy green” should not prevail. Sustainable green should prevail by siting large scale solar projects on already developed impervious surfaces rather than on farmland and other environmentally sensitive lands.
Joseph H. Metelski
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