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Carolina Journal Radio No. 768: Triangle makes Amazon’s top 20 list for HQ2

Carolina Journal Radio / Donna Martinez and Mitch Kokai
The Truth Network Radio
February 5, 2018 12:00 am

Carolina Journal Radio No. 768: Triangle makes Amazon’s top 20 list for HQ2

Carolina Journal Radio / Donna Martinez and Mitch Kokai

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February 5, 2018 12:00 am

The Triangle made Amazon’s cut for the list of 20 potential sites for the online retailer’s second headquarters. Rick Henderson, Carolina Journal editor-in-chief, analyzes the issues surrounding the local bid to land Amazon’s HQ2 and its promises of 50,000 jobs. The federal tax reform package has grabbed recent headlines, but advocates of better tax policy have seen recent gains at the state and local levels as well. Patrick Gleason, director of state affairs at Americans for Tax Reform, says his group has been happy to see recent victories against taxes on soda and plastic bags. Tighter security measures could be on the way soon for North Carolina’s legislative complex. Martin Brock, chief of the General Assembly Police, recently answered questions from lawmakers about the prospects for metal detectors in legislative buildings. Raleigh attorney Thomas Farr has been nominated four times since 2006 for the same seat as a federal District Court judge in North Carolina’s Eastern District. During a recent U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee meeting, Democratic members blasted Farr’s nomination. You’ll hear some of their comments, along with a defense from U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C. Plans to build large solar farms in rural North Carolina are pitting neighbor against neighbor. Dan Way, Carolina Journal associate editor, has reported on these property rights fights. He shares highlights from his coverage.

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From charity to Currituck from the largest city to the smallest and from the statehouse into the schoolhouse Carolina Journal radio your weekly news magazine discussing North Carolina's most public policy events and issues welcome to Carolina Journal radio why Pacheco guy during the next hour, Donna Martinez and I will explore some major issues affecting our state. The recent federal tax reform law has grabbed plenty of headlines but a representative from the group Americans for tax reform joins us to tout other recent winds of the fight for better tax policy. Tighter security could be on the way for North Carolina's legislative complex learn details including the possibility of metal detectors at the state legislative building. US senators recently debated the nomination of a Raleigh attorney to become a new federal district court judge you hear highlights from the comments for and against it and will explain how solar energy projects or pitting neighbor against neighbor, in some North Carolina communities. Those topics are just ahead.

But first, Donna Martinez joins us. She has the Carolina Journal headline with news that Amazon has now selected Raleigh is a top 20 finalists for its second headquarters. Speculation has begun about exactly what kind of package the city or perhaps the region offer to the retailer.

In order to lure a reported 50,000 jobs that would be part of the deal and that of course leads to questions about just how much money taxpayers might be on the hook for Carolina Journal editor-in-chief Rick Henderson is following the story. He's here to talk about it. Welcome back. Thank you for so is it Raleigh that the final histories of the triangle is at the state it's the research Triangle area in general Raleigh city had listed had to be listed as the host but the property could be located in the RTP could be located in Durham. It could be located anywhere in the region. Raleigh was the focus in his stomach a paperwork issue.

It was interesting as well that the folks in Durham apparently called to make sure I don't like not not be included when people talk about the triangle right okay so it looks like us several potential sites will forestall what does Amazon want what we know about the RFP so small that what they're looking for is are looking for a site that the release of a region that has plenty of tech workers affordable housing a growing economy good wage base of nice quality of life features and things like that. One of the criteria was was talking about the public transit which the triangle cannot provide a real transit that some other places.

Can that clearly was not enough to disqualify Raleigh and in fact Charlotte didn't get on the list of trial actually does have rail transit so that may say that the I think probably if you're talking about the difference between the commute, let's say in Silicon Valley or the Seattle area or something like that versus the normal commute here in the tri-triangle area. Then I think master is not that big of a deal because they know that the typical rush hours are much different. You know he mentioned Durham in the little bit of rivalry there between the cities. I believe it was the Charlotte Observer and it also paper real little piece saying Gina were out of it but we may have to actually kinda support our compadres over in the triangle area so it sounds like them, for those who believe that this is a really good idea and certainly who would want more jobs, but where at the discussion. The debate comes in is how you go about it. Yet the package might be.

So what does this mean in terms of incentives. Is that what you're talking about. You will be looking for some sort of giveaways are looking for some sort of tax breaks some sort of deferral or forgiveness of property taxes looking for something, possibly in the way of forgiveness of of local taxes workers or something like that and maybe looking for something. Who knows, maybe free tuition to college for all that you ask of you who knows what sorts of things will be looking for incentives package and the thing that's that's interesting is that Gov. Roy Cooper has already come out and sent you and we throw some money at you. But don't expect too much interesting that North Carolina recently lost the opportunity to be home to an auto manufacturing plant that went to the state of Alabama was in the comparison of the packages there. North Carolina had actually offered about 1 1/2 billion incentives, Alabama, much less so it's not always what you offer them a strike because of Alabama's case the situation was that they already had automobile manufacturers. There and so the supply chains of all the parts of various equipment and things like that were already established, so it wasn't a matter of having to invent a source of suppliers for the manufacturing facility was already there just a matter of expanding it. North Carolina had to sort of sweeten the pot a little bit more to say what we don't have it now, but if we throw enough money at your way then will attract always other folks come in and difference governor said that Amazon does not cushion expect one half million that was that was a offer for an auto plant, not for a high-tech maybe for a for a high-tech headquarters for now. I know the Carolina journalist can be reporting going forward on all sorts of different angles sent to this story.

One of them being exactly what do you do if your region or state and you certainly would want them jobs. More jobs coming.

To your area but it's a real policy debate is network over what you do what you offer, how much is enough how much is too much and should you get involved in what some people including one of the analysts here at the Locke foundation has deemed as crony capitalism right that set the problem with this situation is that what North Carolina offers in other places adult is a lower corporate tax environment with the lowest tax rates corporate tax rates in the country for states that use corporate income tax and also we don't really offer novel carveouts and exceptions. Generally speaking, so our climate is going to be based on the fact that we do have the major technology oriented research universities here in the triangle area. We do have other high-tech corporate headquarters or corporate presences here like Citrix and Red Hat and the like, and that we do have the attractiveness of the area in general. The fact that we do have a very educable well educated workforce and have an awful large influx of people from the outside, many of whom have a lot of training and skills, and even so much like a place like Nashville or Austin Francis the housing prices here are relatively low compared to an awful lot of other tech hubs like Boston or Silicon Valley and you mentioned some of those other cities. Some of the competitors that we are facing, you got the major cities, Los Angeles, New York, and you've got the traditional competitors for North Carolina for many industries such as Austin and Boston. So it appears that the Amazon people have chosen a wide range of cities, regions to be considered the top 20 right thing. Do you think they are finding something in particular about each of those areas or are they just want people to kinda guess and think everybody really has a shot.

Well certainly increases the price playing poker with 20 people at the table rather than what's a three so that means at times.

I'm certain that there any of these 20 places would be appropriate ensure that everyone meets at least a minimal standard of what it was I was looking for. The question then is one of the trade-offs involved in picking one place or another. I think I would find Los Angeles Francis to be the least likely place to get that simply because the state of California is now talking about asking asking businesses to return some of their federal tax cut money to the state to help the state pay off its budget deficit. So I'm thinking if you're looking to relocate headquarters there.

The first thing you say as well. You know there's certain tax benefits just got taken away from your asking you to to give back for the good of the state be there certain things that state policymakers do this was that that sour the pot, not sweeten it. I think what we find out here is that it will be an attractive location because of our tax and regulatory environment. However, if we start throwing too much money at the project we start offering too many promises. There's a very good chance it hears does John Sanders and flocculation said that there, so you actually lose money on the deal that you will not get if you offer forgiveness for income tax payments. For instance, with the business or from employees well then, therefore, you're really not generating much money which you are generating more traffic your increasing housing prices are doing all sorts of other things to make the quality of life a little bit lower and are readers of Carolina journaling listeners are Carolina Journal radio may recall in the past that there had been an instant, sooner or two in our state where you give out a big package and then they don't come through with the job strike similar to cautionary tale for policymakers, whether it's at the city of Raleigh or if the state gets involved or whatever to be extremely careful to be talking with Rick Anderson. He is editor-in-chief of Carolina Journal and of course you can read the daily news update Carolina Thank you.

Thank you. Say with as much more Carolina Journal radio to come in just a moment government plays a key role in your life affecting your paycheck the way you educate your kids the way you do business. How can you tell if government is doing a good job making the right choices. Spending tax dollars wisely.

Carolina tackles those questions every day. The John Locke foundation publishes Carolina Journal imprint each month and on the web each day at Carolina. you'll find exclusive investigative reports on topics. No one else is covering what else a rundown of the best new stories, editorials and opinion columns in North Carolina. John Hood's daily Journal news stories and important public and the voices of the newsmakers themselves at Carolina Journal radio and print on the air and on the web.

You can find the information you welcome back to Carolina Journal radio I Michiko got governments across the country have inserted themselves into people's lives with action, such as taxing soda and taxing or even banning plastic bags. Those efforts have suffered some recent setbacks joining us to discuss the latest developments is Patrick Gleason, director of state affairs for the group Americans for tax reform, welcome back.

The program Patrick so great to be back much working for a group called Americans for tax reform has to be frustrating when you see governments across the country targeting things like this like Soto are like plastic bags are the things where it's not a broad-based, general tax, but something is really specific and not really something that that helps boost the economy yesterday tax is a great example of a type of tax that we would oppose and if it it's basically what we would see great example of the antithesis of sound progrowth tax policy. It's targeted and it discriminates against once industries of the other and also it's intended to influence behavior and we thinking of the best approach at American scratch want to tax policies. You want low rates broad-based despite the tax code is meant to raise the amount of revenue for governments not to influence behaviors and that is what the soda taxes always have been sold as but it in addition to influencing behavior often times in most cases with soda taxes. The ultimate impetus behind this is related to cash-strapped raise revenue and so we seen an uptick in that. Actually, that's an area where ATR and typically focuses on. We work in Federalist leveling work on tax reform at the state level and state capitals across the country, but soda taxes. An example of an issue that's really caused us to focus more and more over the years the local municipal level because as state legislatures have been taken over by more taxpayer friendly compositions more taxpayer from the majorities. A lot of the bad ideas have started be pushed onto local level. So we since a lot of big cities and soda taxes of them popping up in a lot of places lately you enter big cities. This was something that was really championed by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and really took off after he made it one of his causes, but you also saw some recent good news on this front than just yet, so surprisingly good news on this front.

After losing some battles in recent years, seeing the imposition of a soda tax in Philadelphia last year. Number cities in the Bay Area, Berkeley, San Francisco and a few other Bay Area cities and then Boulder Colorado this year things at the time is turned a bit and soda tax warns tax debate really good new surprising good news from Cook County, Illinois, which is the home of Chicago and Cook County in the past of their work. Cook County commission past approved late last year so to tax a penny per ounce soda tax that went into effect this summer and it was only in effect for two months and already the backlash against it from the community, from business owners was so strong that Cook County. I mean you cannot find a more tax-and-spend friendly jurisdiction, the Chicago, Cook County, even back down the Cook County commission by vote of 15 to 2 voting to repeal the Cook County soda tax rate news is off the books and will be off the books in December and that comes without surprising their net comes on the heels of the overbuild another soda tax on Wisconsin.

It wasn't as soda tax design like the Cook County and other ones be seen like Philly but it was it was an old relic that had been on the books.

If you if you sell soda if you're retail you just pay the special little feet so they got that it was our arcane charge that was on the books, but technically a soda tax nonetheless.

So that was taken off the books are two really good bits of news and this is and make Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a proponent he's been spending his wealth around the country pushing these he did in Philly. He didn't Cook County and then during the recent repeal effort. He was spending millions on ad campaign to fight that and with with the victory in repealing that regressive tax soda text Cook County. Just think, goes to show you, even when the money is on the other side. If you are right on the issuing of a sound argument, you can win and so southern Cook County that on top, Wisconsin on top of earlier this year Santa Fe was they put on the ballot is a left-leaning city they went overwhelmingly for Heller Clinton unless your presidential election. They overwhelmingly rejected in Santa Fe earlier this spring, so Santa Fe then Cook County, a series of defeats for Michael Bloomberg and the rest of his nanny state soda tax crew that is the voice of Patrick Gleason, who is director of state affairs for Americans for tax reform. Let's switch gears a little bit. Another thing that is attracted attention either through taxation or even banning is the idea plastic bag something that anyone is going to North Carolina's Outer Banks. As is known about you also say there's been some good news on taxes of plastic bags to yes so plastic bag bans and taxes.

That's another issue that we been working with working on fighting against the state and local level and actually it is similar to soda taxes and soda taxes are sold as is a way to improve health think about obesity and plastic bag bans or taxes either are sold as a way to improve the environment, reduce pollution, soda taxes do not reduce obesity. They do not improve health and plastic bag bans and taxes do not improve the environment they don't reduce letter sets a common theme, and as with soda tax we've seen in the recent backlash against those realization that they're just cash grabs and don't improve health and similarly on a similar track.

We've seen a greater recognition with plastic bag bans and taxes lately.

The recognizing that these don't improve the environment they don't dilute reduce letter. The just cash grabs that make people feel good, and so on to impose that the one Elizabeth will impose and they feel great. They feel very good about themselves, but they they hurt you know they hurt lower-income likely soda taxes back taxes are regressive bag bans disproportionally inconvenienced lower-income households. People who take public transportation, not the people who have a large Audi station wagon full of reusable bags on their life is good bumper sticker on the back back of their car. You know it's easy for them to cope with that. Not so much. Something so like we seem soda taxes.

There has been a tide turning in a backlash against them. So North Carolina recently was the center of that debate.

Amanda, as you mentioned, the Outer Banks targeted bag band bag prohibition was repealed smartly by the legislature. This was a a relic of the previous regime that used to control the state prior to 2010 and point of fact, the bag ban bag bans and there is no evidence that they do anything to reduce letter that was documented with studies in this state, but also dispensed examples from other states. Now, San Francisco was the first. Not surprisingly, was the first jurisdiction to impose a bag band similar to what eventually came on the books here for the Outer Banks in place now is off the books, but San Francisco first city to move forward with the 2007, the year after a few weeks in examined litter audits for the year before the bag and went affect your effort and you will question your career line when you find yourself looking at reading litter audits important but looking at the litter audits before and after we found that not only did bags on this is the case nationwide. Not only do plastic bags comprise a minuscule share of total litter, but after the bag the year after the bag to Mancini band was in effect, the share of litter that was comprise the badge is actually greater so there if you're trying to get your goal is to get litter mitigate litter bags are not a good target and they've been shown to be even effective doing that.

So we seen that so that's why we think it was good policy and so you know if, of all places where you probably need. You could reuse plastic bags. The beach is one and that's the thing that you know the nanny state is who opposed who are think plastic bags are the scourge of the world listening the Mrs. constantly's plastic bags that's really in the creek is plastic bags by and large are frequently missed read reuse many things, Minneapolis, city Council, which is ideologically as far on the outside the spectrum you can get from the North Carolina Gen. assembly, left-leaning Minneapolis city Council they were considering a back tax. In this case and like soda taxes are regressive with disproportionally hung the poor. We are fully expecting that to past and surprisingly after hearing a lot of pressure from the community they they back down similar to the arguments we hear the public backlash we saw the soda taxes in Chicago, Minneapolis people so we don't want this regressive taxes, harm, or income household disproportionally is not improve the environment. These are positive developments. The RRR returns in the change of course touch turns in the tied up, we've been seeing in these two fights battles nationwide against any state taxes that make you feel good, but don't really do much good other than drain the bank accounts of families Patrick Gleason, director of state affairs, Americans for tax reform next joins Lemoore on Carolina journal radio just about if you love freedom we got great news to share with you now. You can find the latest news, views, and research from conservative groups all across the state. All in one place North Carolina one-stop shopping for North Carolina St. movement had North Carolina You'll find links to John Locke foundation blogs on the days news Carolina reporting and quick takes Carolina journal radio interviews TV interviews featuring CJ reporters and Locke foundation analyst plus opinion pieces and reports on higher education. All of that from the Pope Center for higher education policy commentary and polling data from the Cintas Institute and news and views from the North Carolina family policy Council.

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Support the John Locke foundation will come back Carolina journal radio why Michiko guy increased security could be on the way for the North Carolina Gen. assembly, Democratic state representative Garland Pierce recently asked legislative police chief Martin Brock about little detectors all we away from Miller take his commute will not notice the building is the probably hard but is that a conversation is that something that being hated, absolutely represent. If we we are constantly having those conversations we were looking at plans and procedures.

To put that in place. Then they operation with that really hinder coming in now. I mean, we want safety, but no people coming into school students is all the time all the time.

So what what you see is the downside is operating. This view only if you had to have known tics and slowing traffic coming in. I fully agree this is the people's ability and we want everyone to have access and opposed. I fully believe that the public should be able to come and watch legislative legislators enact legislation. However, I do think that we can do it in a reasonable way to balance the safety and security has other states have done in the Jocelyn police chief. I will do my best to enact any procedures and programs that the commission legislators Republican representative Larry Pittman passed along ideas from an outside security expert. He was making some suggestions along the lines of heavy-metal debtors and also uses some that might have an armed guard at the door knowing some of the things I'm glad to hear Joel considering some things to believe that this is the people's facility and indented be able to get into it but we do need be safe course.

I've advocated allowing members of staff to be armed and I still advocate that guns for legislators Sen. Ronald Reagan asked police chief Brock about the idea what your personal feeling.

If you will, on concealed carry for members and for staff as we go about her duties. Given that we get the training and all of it. I have a lot of concerns when any time deadly weapons or serious weapons is being discussed. I can tell you the Jocelyn police department trains frequently and the use of firearms and the use of defensive tactics and in response there are a lot of verification or misidentification issues that come the amount of training the background of each individual. Also, some have believing in and enforcing the law. So whatever legislation is passed I will do my best to enforce.

That's Gen. assembly police chief Martin Brock responded to questions about security at the state legislative building in Raleigh will return with more Carolina journal radio about real influence.

You either have it or you don't and at the John Locke foundation. We do, and that's not bluster in a private survey of more than 250 North Carolina political insiders 87% said we influence them either a great deal a good amount.

So while others talk and complain. We get to work providing research solutions and help our team analyzes the pressing issues of the day jobs, healthcare, education, and more. We look for effective ways to give you more freedom, more options, more control. Our goal is to transform North Carolina into a growing, thriving economic powerhouse that is the envy of every other state. Our research is actually help policymakers make decisions and ensure you keep more of what you earn.

Expand your choice of schools for your kids. Widen your job opportunities and improve your access to doctors. The recipe for stability and a bright future. The John Locke foundation were dedicated to making North Carolina first and freedom were dedicated to you. Welcome back Carolina journal radio why Michiko guy, a Raleigh attorney recently generated some buzz on Capitol Hill in Washington DC. The US Senate Judiciary Committee debated president trumps nomination of Thomas Pharr of Raleigh to service a new US District Court Judge Democrats such as Dianne Feinstein of California lined up against far the Eastern District of North Carolina has a population that is roughly 27% African-American, yet this district has never had an African-American federal district court judge the history of this vacancy makes it all the more troubling that Mr. Pharr has a long record fighting on behalf of racially gerrymandered voting districts that dilute the voting power of African-American voters. Other Democratic senators added to the chorus of complaints about four could this administration have picked an individual who was more hostile to the rights of minorities than this man is hard to imagine his been described as NAACP is a product of the white supremacist machine. Perhaps someone who is the most objectionable to judicial nominees be seen in this past year.

I think Thomas Florida is probably the worst of the letter here in terms of being able to be someone who African-American voter seeking to vindicate his or her rights under the voting rights act could credibly be asked to believe get a fair hearing from this judge, particularly on voting rights issues when there is so much evidence that we have shown that he was actually involved in voter intimidation tactics back in the Helms campaign and that he is not been forthcoming with this committee in describing his action. Sen. Kabbalah Harris added more detail to the Democrats accusations. In 1990. Sen. Jesse Helms was running for reelection.

Helms campaign infamously sent out the postcards which have been mentioned to 125,000 black voters, stating they could be prosecuted and imprisoned for up to five years if they voted in a precinct.

They had lived in for fewer than 30 days, the Justice Department, under Pres. George H. W. Bush described these actions as quote intended to intimidate thousands of African-American residents and discourage them from voting in the 1990 United States Senate election. One of those Helms campaign lawyers was Thomas Pharr, North Carolina Sen. Tom Tillis responded to the Democrats complaints. First, I want to talk little bit about history unit. I wasn't thinking about it until after I heard Sen. Lahey speak about the blue slip policy. They and Sen. Feinstein talked about the nominations for the Eastern District during the Obama administration, but I think to complete the history. We also have to recognize that Tom far was put forth in 2006 and again in 2007 how to be fair, the blue slip policy was honored by that was never a hearing in this committee, which seems to me to be a different means to the same ends in terms of preventing judges from going forward. Also have to talk a little bit about the characterizations of Mr. Pharr and his participation in the Helms campaign number one.

What was done was despicable and quite honestly anyone who had anything to do with the production of the mailer should really have a job in political life today.

As far as I'm concerned, that I happen to know some of those people. But the fact the matter is Tom far as was said in this committee just a few minutes ago was campaign counsel. He was never come campaign counsel and they will write the Bush administration was right to bring a case against the Helms campaign. The fact of the matter is Tom far was never named as a defendant in fact the whole narrative. No matter how many times you said I don't believe it to be true. And it's been said many times today is based on the comments and the single source for a liberal media outlet that was from a Gerald Halbert this is somebody letter recant his testimony as people accurately reported that before this committee before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1986 he recanted his testimony will find remarkable after he recanted his testimony, he still probably authored out on article it said my testimony about Jeff site sessions kept him from being a judge now.

This is also somebody who and in the Department of Justice brought a public frivolous lawsuit doing with voting rights in Alabama that resulted in sanctions from a judge that was appointed by Jimmy Carter, so I don't necessarily think that single source serves as a basis for somebody would come before this committee who would testify until the true Tom far as that person after rebutting dubious claims about Thomas Pharr's history, North Carolina Sen. Tom Tillis turned to Pharr's qualifications to serve as a US District Court judge now is just talk about qualifications. The gold standard for well-qualified unanimous well-qualified Tom Barth got it twice. That's just me that if this was the ABA on the judiciary committee they be vote them out by voice vote. Look, I get that.

We have differences in our political ideologies, but I think absolutely destroying a good man's reputation is inappropriate. He answered questions honestly. He responded in the letter to my satisfaction. He has people who were on the committee that said if we had consulted with Tom far. We had never sent out that melons are convinced of that because he's a fair man. He's been judged unanimous with the well-qualified twice and for the people who look at Tom far through the eyes of an attorney. I think they would say that he's gonna be a fantastic judge is going be a fair judge and he shouldn't be judged on the basis of false claims made by Mr. Herbert, whose own credibility is on the line I will use his word like Sen. Lahey I would use his word, but a synonym for misleading his bamboos owing he bamboozled apparently Senate committee and now were going to use Helms gospel as the only source for something he had no direct involvement in back in the Helms campaign. So I believe the Tom far as to make a good judge, a great judge also know that Tom far has broad-based support from across the ideological spectrum. Because he's a good man is built right relationships. He's been mentors to people that couldn't be further away from home out a lot ideologically to probably support his nomination out. My colleagues will as well. Republican Committee Chairman Charles Grassley also spoken Pharr's favor.

I guess people use ABA ratings when they want doing when they wanted normally ignore book this person has gone through two of them in the Bush administration in them. In this administration and received well-qualified the last time I guess was well-qualified with one abstention but also to take into consideration that one of the points of the ABA looks at not only these are the exact words we use, but it's a basis that they make a judgment on a commitment to equal rights. Grassley batted back Democrats request for a second hearing on Pharr's nomination. There been numerous opportunities for all committee members to question Mr. Pharr and on. Sorry to say that I disagree with the need for a second hearing because I think he is been candid and truthful and I think particular Sen. Tillis has laid out the stronger point than I can even make for his confirmation. Grassley's committee approved the nomination.

Thomas Pharr of Raleigh has been nominated for time since 2006 to serve in the same position as US District Court judge for Eastern North Carolina will return with more Carolina drone radio in a moment. Full color throughout every issue more visual storytelling.

We've revamped Carolina journal to make it easier to read a new look and a new feel. But one thing hasn't changed and it never will. That is our commitment to truth and transparency in government, you can still count on Carolina journal for investigations into government spending revelations about boondoggles and vetting of corruption. No permission to shine the light on what North Carolina government and the bureaucrats who run it are doing in your name and with your money will never wane and because of that our reach and influence are growing to all of our distribution outlets we reach more than 1 million N. Carolinians every month so make sure you stay informed. Read the monthly print edition of Carolina journal. Then check in several times a day, Carolina that's where you'll find fresh stories, opinion pieces and updates on government politics and your money. Carolina journal. We hold government accountable to you. Welcome back to Carolina journal radio I'm Donna Martinez.

Tensions and conflicts have begun to occur in some rural parts of North Carolina as solar power developers pay farmers to lease their land for use as solar farms rather than traditional crop farms, Carolina journal, associate editor, danwei has been delving into this angle of North Carolina's solar power industry.

He reported on it recently for Carolyn Dan welcome back. The program thinks is going to be your story says that death flat farmland is what the solar power developers are looking for and in North Carolina. We got a lot of what we do in North Carolina right now is number two state in the nation for the amount of installed solar capacity behind only California so we have an explosive growth of low solar facilities and they do one of the complaints from the agricultural community is it there taking up this good viable farmland, but is not always not always on the flat farmland and it creates some of the tension with local communities because our concerns about environmental issues with putting these on sloping hills with runoff and pesticide use and other concerns. Dennis it was pretty interesting.

The people that you reported on in Iredell County who are involved right now in in this conflict and really it seems to boil down to two different points of view that has these neighbors pitted against our neighbors as you put it in your story. One is hey, it's my property. If I want to lease it to a solar power developer and they want to put solar cells on it. Well that's my right to do that.

The other is look you are fundamentally changing not just your property and how things look and feel in our community but your impacting me your neighbor as well and both seem pretty compelling. They are both property rights issues to some degree, but they're not uncommon when it comes to land-use legal issues so whether this would be gravel pit stripmall one adult bookstore.

We see these kinds of legal tensions play all over the place is just that this now is very much a growth industry and so people who have land and they can lease it for decent price to a solar developer want to bill UserLand the way they see fit, and I didn't realize this but in your story you said that tongue. Many farmers lease more land in the actually farm themselves right in Carolina Cooperative Extension service tells us that most farmers today don't own enough land to produce what they're selling so they are dependent very much on may bring landowners to lease their fields and so again this creates a competitive situation where the landowners who are leasing farms lend to you now to make a better price by putting a solar farm on their best direction of putting I go so farmers would have to increase the amount of rent that they would pay in order to keep the farmland.

It is such an interesting look at it tensions because as you said M.

This may be a new venue, a new vehicle that's creating that the disagreements in the community, but it could easily be a fence in past years, but now it is these much larger solar farms describe one to us what we talking well if you have about 20 sites you will see a gigantic sprawl on actual sealed metal and glass look comprising the solar panels and in some places I can go on almost as far as your eye vision can go out to the tree lines in the distance or whatever. So the really mammoth but they range in size. Some of them are smaller but the big ones such as this one really have the community in an uproar because this will affect the large land mass and this is a company this kind Iredell County.

In this case. This is Cypress Creek renewables.

They have a number of projects around the state. They have offices in Asheville and Durham. The California base of one of the biggest solar developers in the country. You have several landowners that are profiled in your story and again folks can read this, a Carolina tell us about the stories of what's happening and not know these stories.

This profile, you could find the same situation the same scenario the same people on the names of change in other counties around the state.

I focus on this one because it was still in the initial stages of getting special use permit to put this project in so I went around talk to the forecastle of the people who live in the neighborhood understands are going to have this joy eyesore. There some folks move out in the country because I want that atmosphere they want to quiet charm and not the diesel produce any noise. Once the construction is completed, but alters the harmony is one of the things they look at the harmony of the community is in harmony with community because if you're thinking GM want to live in a more rural part of the state. I want to quiet community whether I'm raising a family and my prime earning years of farming, or whether I'm retiring. You don't think a giant solar farm is something that could potentially be your neighbor but you have to start thinking right in this particular case is there's a retired heart surgeon Keith Gatland who is opposed to the project. He has his property and conservation easement wants to serve as property for the wildlife he and his wife, a retired small animal menagerie of a little horse farm. There they enjoy walking through the woods and in seeing the little critters that there is no flying about and are concerned that once this massive complex gets put in there that all the animals who relied on that habitat are not going to build a thriving survive anymore, so is going to affect the ability of some of the woodland creatures to stay in that area. So what's the recourse.

Is there any recourse if if someone disagrees with this and they know that their neighbor across the way is getting ready to sign one of these leases. There is no one of the problems with the land-use issues, solar is developed most people look at this as a political issue. Go down to the local government and say hey we don't want this and you need to stop it, but it is really not that easy.

It's actually a quasijudicial hearing at the local government level where they take testimony there are certain criteria that have to be met in order to approve or disapprove reject an application and so what's happened up to this point is that most local community's are caught unawares of just how specific and technical. These arguments are the solar companies command. They have a team of professional experts.

The lawyers who've done this before them a playbook to work from the folks who are fighting against it often don't know what the Raven store for so they can win the local level, local government rejects the special use permit the person. The developer then can you let to Superior Court never been a number cases where the local governments have been upheld at the Superior Court level but there been a string of cases now. Where once its appeal to the Court of Appeals gets overturned and so are some counties now that are trying to determine what they're going to do in response to that was a tribe to inflated or just let it go but basically the courts have looked in the courts look at these things is very fact-based evidence and are certain specific legal definition of the kinds of evidence that you look at and often times are saying the local folks just didn't meet that bar so Dan let's say that one of these farms goes in one of the solar farms. How long is it therefore will. That's a big unknown and that this part of the contention in these legal proceedings developers might save 20 year lease 30 year lease on site 40 years. But we don't like generation is what you talk about here. So this is a long-term deal and having that old yet so we don't know if a lesson well and that's a good question because some people say and you reported on concerns about environmental impact. What happens at when the leases is over.

Do they remove the panels or what happens to the land.

What condition is in it, with its big question.

Some places have a decommissioning plan. Some local ordinances require a decommissioning plan, but there's a big question looming where these things will be disposed of. Developers will say there's recycling market. Some say no thanks so much for doing things Raven. That's all the time we have for the program this week for listening. I'm Donna Martinez. Please join us again next week for another edition of Carolina journal radio Carolina journal radio is a program at the John Locke foundation to learn more about the John Locke foundation donations that support programs like Carolina journal radio sending email to development John Locke done call 1866 Jayla 166-553-4636 Carolina journal radio nation airline is maintained. All opinions expressed on this program nearly mentioned on the show or other foundation. Many airline sponsors Carolina radio again

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