Activist Judge Orders Shelby City Counsil to Reverse Vote on Beaver Dam Church Road Solar Farm Analysis, Evaluation and opinions by Robert A. Williams

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Shelby, like Cleveland County has zoning ordinances and land use plans. These ordinances and land use plans were supposedly developed to maintain property use in accordance with the surrounding area land use, to limit any adverse effect on property values, safety and overall benefit to the community. The Shelby City Counsel ruled recently that a solar farm construction permit for property on Beaver Dam Church Road would adversely affect the land values of adjoining property owners and was not suitable in accordance with the Shelby land use plan. Therefore the permit and zoning change for the solar farm was denied unanimously by the Shelby City Counsel a few months ago.

Cleveland County Commissioners last month held a Public Hearing on a similar situation near Duke’s Cliffside Power Plant. Despite overwhelming opposition to the solar farm in the public hearing, the commissioners, in a decision that was obviously cooked up before the meeting, voted unanimously to change zoning to allow the construction of a solar farm. Totally contrary to county zoning and county land use plans. Commissioners totally disregarded the many property owners near the proposed solar farm. Commissioner Eddie Holbrook said the zoning and land use plan was “only a guide” and they could change it if they wanted to-which they did. In this particular case commissioners were surely influenced by their budget busting spending that has resulted in many efforts to raise tax revenue to cover the spending. No consideration to reducing county spending is ever considered by this bunch of commissioners. Except to freeze county employee pay. County Attorney Bob Yelton did not raise any question about the county commissioner’s action to change their zoning rules and land use plans.

Now, on March 23, 2013 Judge Lisa C. Bell, according to the Shelby Star, has ordered the Shelby City Counsel to reverse their previous disapproval of the Beaver Dam Road Church Road solar farm construction permit. Which they did upon the advise of City Attorney Bob Yelton. Yelton advised that an appeal to the NC Court of Appeals would probably not be winnable. Although each Shelby City Counsel member is a duly elected government official, apparently not one Shelby City Counsel member voted to uphold their own previous decision to protect Shelby Zoning ordinances and land use plans. Which, by the way, calls for removal of the Confederate Soldier’s Memorial statue on the old Courthouse Square.

Beside Attorney Bob Yelton representing both Shelby City Counsel as well as the Cleveland County Commissioners on both sides of the same Issue appearing to be a conflict of interest, my interest is this activist and politically controversial judge who is not from around here. Cleveland County Voters have no opportunity of throwing Judge Lisa Bell out of office. And yet Judge Bell blindly, as far as I can tell, makes rulings about things regarding local Cleveland County property values and land uses. Where were the Cleveland County Judges Forrest Donald Bridges and William Todd Pomeroy? These judges are supposed to be elected to uphold the law in Lincoln and Cleveland County yet for an important issue that affects Cleveland County and Shelby, they are missing in action.

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