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Plan For Yuba City Solar Farm Stirs Debate Over Fertile Soil

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YUBA CITY (CBS13) – A farm in Yuba City may end up providing power and jobs, but right now it’s just causing a big fight of whether or not to turn the plot of land into a solar farm.

Some argue the 260 acres of soil at North Township and Nuestro Roads are just too good.

The Farri family has cherished the view for 59 years.

“We can see land here, the snow in the Sierra, it’s really beautiful,” said Luis Farri.

For 59 years it has been surrounded by farms and agriculture, which they say is the root of Sutter County.

“I’m 89. How much longer am I gonna be here, ya know? But my grandkids, great-grandkids, they’re gonna be hurting,” said Luis.

That’s why Luis and Marriel are hoping solar developers stay away from their street.

“It should be a crime that we take all this land out of production,” said Luis.

It’s pretty rare when using the sun for energy is getting people fired up.

“This soil is so fine and sandy, and I think anything will grow here,” said Planning Commissioner Mike Geraldo.

Geraldo first thought a solar project was a bright idea, until he came to the Yuba City site.

“I like to see it continue farming. It’s a beautiful area,” he said.

New West Renewable Resource says it does understand the value of soil in the area. The company doesn’t want to just cover it with solar panels, but wants to bring sheep or plant herbs.

“We want to be good neighbors. We’re good developers; we consider ourselves considerate people,” said Rhonda Mills, New West Renewable Resources.

The company tells CBS13 that the lot of land is a prime spot since it is a mile away from a PG&E substation. If the company gets the green light, the panels will provide up to 40 percent of Yuba City’s power. The company also says the current landowner hasn’t made money farming, and that’s why he’s willing to offer New West a lease.

But, neighbors worry that once the 260 acres of fertile soil is lost to solar power, it’ll be lost for good.

A love for the land has led to this battle over preservation, and all sides are staking claim in this environment.

After a petition and an appeal, the decision is now in the hands of Sutter County’s Board of Supervisors, who will vote next week after a community meeting this Saturday.

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