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Opponents of solar farm in Calcasieu Parish file lawsuit against police jury, zoning board

Published: Sep. 10, 2021 at 6:40 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - It’s been nearly a month since an exception was made to allow for a solar farm in Southeast Calcasieu Parish.

Nearby residents opposed it, and now their attorney has filed a lawsuit to reverse the decision. The opposition attorney told the zoning board that approving an exception for a solar farm was illegal.

Residents opposed the project to put a million solar panels in rural Southeast Calcasieu Parish for a variety of reasons, one of which was concern about hurricanes.

“If one million solar panels started flying around in the air, that could be really horrible in some cases,” said attorney Maurice Tynes, representing opponents.

The hurricane concerns were countered by the solar company, saying the panels would be wind-resistant and securely in the ground.

Tynes says the reason approval of a zoning exception was illegal is because the parish zoning ordinance allows no exception for a solar farm or industrial facility.

“It’s the zoning board and its vote and its approval that actually is illegal, plainly, blatantly illegal,” Tynes said.

The lawsuit also says the hearing was unfair for several reasons, including that not everyone opposed could fit into the meeting room.

“The meeting should have been in a large room in the civic center, and there’s plenty of room over there for a meeting of this size so everyone could be in the room,” Tynes said.

He says the opponents were forced to share 15 minutes for all their comments.

“Well over a hundred people there ready to speak, we were given a minimum of a few minutes a piece, fifteen minutes total, to speak, which was absolutely absurd given the import of this particular project,” Tynes said.

The police jury is one of the two defendants in the suit because they oversee the zoning board, which is also a defendant.

A police jury spokesman said they do not comment on pending litigation.

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