Letters to the Editor
Submitted to the Smithville Times - Nov. 22, 2021
This morning, a couple of us Rosanky-area residents returned to the Bastrop County Commissioner's Court to inform them of the safety concerns that their partnership with RWE Renewables and their Big Star Solar plant are creating for residents along Jeddo and Cistern roads, even up FM 535 and Hwy. 304.
It has been confirmed previously by Bastrop County Sheriff Maurice Cook that several drivers delivering heavy loads of gravel to the site are illegally working in this country and did not have the required permits and licenses to operate such a large and dangerous vehicle. County Judge Paul Pape seemed surprised to hear of this, but he shouldn't have been. If there's a clear line of communication between the judge and the sheriff, this wouldn't have been news to him.
What's concerning is the continued lack of care that commissioners have given to our area with this major construction project. Several of us residents had to gather back in September to help enforce the county's new "No Thru Trucks" designation on Hofferek Rd. — which RWE construction traffic was illegally using — and now residents are having to spend their own money to place signs along Jeddo Rd. urging these out-of-state construction workers to slow their rigs and look out for local traffic.
I was asked this morning by a commissioner why I didn't call her instead of heading to social media with our Hofferek Rd. protest. And after some reflection, it's simple: residents have called on the commissioners since September 2020 to help us out and do the right thing, and they haven't. The noise pollution is grating, the speeding is dangerous, the dust and smoke has choked out several families, and the uncertainty about the future environmental impacts at the 2,000-acre site are unknown. Why would we call our commissioner, when we get no help in return? A 50-foot setback and planting a line of vegetation (as stated in the county's contract with RWE) really won't amount to a hill of beans for residents. But Judge Pape was happy to include contractual obligations that required RWE to give an arbitrary $10,000 donation to the Smithville FFA and to require RWE to pay the back taxes on the Rosanky Cattle Company and its owner Mike Hughes, while adjoining landowners have to fight for every dollar in tax savings that they can, with no help from the county. Even the nation of Israel gets more protection than Rosanky residents in this contract, as stated in Section 11.02. There, RWE is forbidden to "boycott Israel" for fear of losing their county tax breaks, yet there's not much in there relating to the protections of landowners, their tax burdens, or their peace-of-mind.
What's even more insulting is that later this same meeting, on the agenda again was the tired Confederate monuments kerfuffle, where even more time was given to placate proponents and opponents of these unnecessary obelisks in futility. It's infuriating that Judge Pape has given so much time to this effort — more than either side ever deserved — while Rosanky residents were often turned away in the lead up to the approval of the Big Star Solar deal, rising to nothing more than a mere annoyance to the judge. Now, those monuments men get yet another day in the court while Rosanky residents fear for their safety and well-being.
Printed in the Austin Chronicle, Nov. 11, 2020
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A conservative commentary on big solar's money grab from taxpayers and the future of the industry based on political changes. NOTE: Author's name has been withheld due to privacy concerns.
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