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Millington Horses Evicted From Green Pastures
Horse owners at the Lazy Anchor Stables on the Navy Base in Millington, TN are distraught after receiving news that their horses’ home will soon be razed and turned into a Solar Panel Farm. Ronnie Miles of the Morale, Welfare, and Recreation Department (MWR) of the Naval Support Activity Mid-South sent word in March to boarders about “the stables property being converted to Solar Panel Farm.” His letter stated that “the Navy, [Millington] Industrial Development Board (IDB) and Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) have been in discussions to approve a proposal by a private entity to convert the property north of the base, to include the northern section of the old Navy housing area and Stables property, to a very large solar panel farm. …If all parties reach an agreement it is our understanding construction will proceed very quickly and result in the closure of the Navy Lazy Anchor Stables. …Our existing lease provides us only 120 days to vacate once the IDB provides notice of termination.” On March 24, 2015 boarders received definite notice that they must vacate the property by June 16, 2015. The big question is: where are 93 horses going to find another home by June 16?
Talking with Andrea Salter, President of the Lazy Anchor Saddle Club, Terri Hardeman, and other boarders, it was evident that they find the task of finding new homes for these horses, who reside on the 200-acre property, overwhelming. They have been told the solar project will take about 300 acres. “Our problem is that we cannot find another place with all the amenities that we have here at the affordable price we enjoy,” Salter said. All the board is self care and boarders prefer it this way. They said they don’t want full board somewhere; they want to personally take care of their horses.
The stables have been here since the early 1960s, they say, and for approximately $100-$130/month they get ample pasture turnout, a stall, tack room, and hay storage. There are multiple barns on the property and the stables were full with at least eight people on the waiting list as late as February. Boarders say the lease for the stable is not supposed to be up until December 31, 2016.
Jeff Atherton, Public Affairs Officer for Naval Support Activity Mid-South answered questions about the change. Why was this particular piece of property chosen? “The Department of the Navy is pursuing renewable energy generation to improve our energy security, operational capability, strategic flexibility and resource availability. The projects will be cost effective, mission-compatible and leverage third-party financing. They will stabilize long-term operational costs and be complemented by smart microgrid technology and utilize infrastructure upgrades. Millington was targeted as an area of interest for this program because the city meets all of the guidelines set.” The Millington Industrial Board owns this sector of land that is leased to the U.S. Navy.
Asked what company is building the solar farm, Atherton replied: “It is early in the planning stages of this project. The Navy is working with the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Millington Industrial Development Board on the way ahead. As we get further into the decision making process we will be able to provide more detailed information.”
Andrea Salter reported that almost half of the 93 horses stabled there are owned by active duty and/or retired active duty military personnel. Some boarders have been there long-term, e.g., 16 years, and some had their horses here as children and now are back as adult horse owners. The saddle club riding arena is on the property; they have vast trails to ride; and there is a strong community here. Since 2007 Lazy Anchor Stables have put on a Fall Festival every October, offering pony rides, a haunted hay ride, pumpkin patch, children’s activities, vendors, and concessions. To this community of horse owners, it’s like breaking up family and giving up all the amenities this facility provides for their horses. They’re not opposed to solar power; in fact, they are all for it. They just think there is a better place for it than taking all their horses’ pasture. For folks at Lazy Anchor, the greener pastures were on their side of the fence.
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