GRIFTON, N.C. (WNCT) – Soon, more than 400 acres of land in Grifton will be the home to a new solar farm for Duke Energy and that has the community divided.

The Buckleberry Solar Farm will span about 412 acres between Church Street and Brown Hodges Road. The farm is estimated to produce 92 million kilowatt-hours of electricity a year once completed. That’s enough power to operate between 7,500 and 8,000 homes in Eastern Carolina.

At previous meetings, residents told Town Manager Joe Albright the new facility would destroy the area.

“Some of the concerns mostly dealt with the appearance of the solar farm,” says Albright. “There was also some concern about its potential negative effect on property values.”

After hearing these concerns, Albright says the developer made changes to plan to better suit the community.

“They also went above and beyond the ‘buffering’ requirements,” he says.

That buffer separates the hundreds of panels from the homes lining the property. Albright says the construction could start in the coming weeks but the company has until the end of the year to begin. Once construction on the solar farm begins, this land will be annexed into the Town of Grifton, increasing their tax base by 20% or $100,000.