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Residents Discuss What To Do Next In Fight Against Planned Dike Solar Plant

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Battle Over Proposed Solar Plant In Dike Receives Attention From National Media Monday

Dike residents Sunday discussed the next round in their fight to prevent a solar plant from being constructed in their community. Cynthia Martin’s petition to the 62nd Judicial District Court for a temporary restraining order and injunction were denied last month, but neither she nor the Dike residents in opposition allowed Judge Will Biard’s order deter them for long.

Potential land cover change in Dike if Hopkins Energy LLC is put into service, according to a report compiled by Aqua Strategies based on the group’s hydrological assessment of the planned solar project.

Martin, following the July 19 hearing, indicated to KSST that the lawsuit filed to stop Hopkins Energy LLC and Hopkins County from building the solar facility is still on. Her attorney, Joanne Hatton of Braun & Gresham Attorneys at Law, in a prepared statement said the judge’s order “does not speak to the merits of the case, which will be determined at trial.”

Hatton contends the primary issue of the case is whether the law was followed when the county approved a tax incentive for the solar companywithout any due diligence to protect the community,” including failing to require the company to provide information about any possible impacts to surrounding landowners and roadways.

There are numerous requirements for tax abatement agreements under the Local Government Code and the Texas Tax Code enacted by the Legislature to protect the public. The agreement between the county and the solar power plant company does not contain these required terms,” Hatton stated.

One point in the lengthy statement Hatton issued explaining her client’s cause for filing and continuing to pursue a suit against Hopkins County and Hopkins Energy LLC, appears to have resounded with Dike residents. They see an opportunity that could allow them to protect their small community moving forward from a solar plant as well as any other perceived threats or potentially provide added benefits for the community.

Dike community members in attendance at Dike Community Center during March community meeting about the planned Dike solar project

However, it is apparent that the location of this extremely large project, which will contain a sea of nearly one million solar panels in a small, unincorporated town, next to county roads that already experience flooding, is not the proper place,” Hatton stated.

The battle between the county officials and Engie, the international company behind the Dike solar project, in addition to generating local media attention, also garnered a national headline this week.

Dallas writer Mary Beth Gahan, Monday in an article in Washington Post Magazine, entitled “A battle of green against green in this Texas community,” reported on the struggle between those in favor of and those against a solar complex in Dike. Gahan reported that the “magic rabbit” the Dike residents pulled out of a metaphorical magic hat Sunday is taking the required steps needed to legally make Dike an incorporated area.

Gahan reported that not only have members compiled enough signatures in support of incorporating Dike as a city, they’ve already collected at lease $3,000 of the $12,000 needed to hire a surveyor and are making plans to hold a fundraiser soon to raise more money

According to the Aug. 2, 2021, Washington Post Magazine story:

Cynthia Martin and son Michael Pickens talking in March to Dike residents about the planned Dike solar project

“If the vote goes their way, the residents hope to annex land that has been leased for the solar facility. “We’re just going to tax them out,” [Dike resident Michele] Barnes says.

(Barnes regularly speaks out during public forum at Hopkins County Commissioners Court meetings against the proposed solar plant and at the regular meeting of residents determined to Save Dike From Solar

There are still many details to be worked out regarding incorporation, according to Martin, the Dike residents are “going through with incorporation regardless, and then we will be annexing after that.” As of Tuesday, over 200 signatures had been collected from Dike residents, which they have been advised should be enough to meet the requirement to call for incorporation.

Once the Dike residents get everything in order, they will need to contact the county judge, with required documentation, to ask him to set a date for an election for the proposed incorporation of Dike.

Author: Faith Huffman

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