Before the vote, board member Todd Collins said McDermott’s hardship didn’t compare to that of the residents that would be affected, some of them just yards away from where the array would be built.
After the decision, Bonnie Yeo, one of the area residents who opposed the project, said she hopes solar can still find a place in Butte.
“I’m relieved,” she said, “and hopeful that they will try to put the power somewhere else. Something smaller on some of this unused land in a more appropriate place.”
Other area residents echoed the sentiment.
“We’re all for solar energy,” Carol Lubick said. “There’s a way to do it. They’re smart people and I’m sure they can come up with a plan.”
The battle of public opinion has raged since Matt Vincent, project consultant and former chief executive for the county, held two open houses for area landowners in May.
On social media and in editorials residents have stood out in support of the project, and others questioned the project’s benefit to Butte.
Many expressed concern for area wildlife, as herds of elk and antelope are common. The project would leave a 1,500-foot wide corridor in the middle of the panels, but disturb a great deal of habitat.
On Thursday, Collins said that land has been important to some residents for a lifetime.