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Commissioners Impose 1-year Moratorium on Solar Farms

February 18, 2020
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Solar Farm photoThe Marshall County Commissioners imposed a moratorium on the development of Solar Farms on property within the county during their meeting Monday.

While the current zoning ordinance was approved in 2007 and revised in 2017 to add solar energy system standards, there was no consideration for Solar Farms which would be greater than 10 acres.

With large commercial solar energy systems or solar energy farms starting to develop in Indiana the commissioners feel it is necessary to explore and become educated about the systems and their potential impacts on county landowners.

With the passage of this moratorium, no new applications for solar energy systems greater that ten acres in size will be accepted by the Marshall County Plan Commission for 12 months while the Plan Commission considers and determines any potential amendments to the solar ordinance.

County Attorney Jim Clevenger said when asked about the moratorium, “It’s kind of a new developing thing.  We need time to toughen and figure out what we are going to do with decommissioning. If there is ways we can get security for making sure there are funds available if necessary down the road for decommissioning.”

Commissioner Kevin Overmyer said the people living out in the area of these proposed solar farms have the same concerns they did 8 years ago with the wind farms were being proposed in the southwest part of the county.  He said, “This room was full of people who were against the wind turbines.  They were complaining about not wanting to look at them, scared about their property values and health concerns.  They have the same concerns as those people back 8 years ago.  We made it so restrictive 8 years ago that we just basically shut them down.”  He closed his comments saying, “I understand both sides but, I don’t think there is too much difference between on or the other.”

With passing the motion for a 1-year moratorium on all three readings the will work with the Plan Commission to make sure the county and its citizens are protected.  If an amendment to the zoning ordinance is completed prior to the 12 month period and the commissioners approve it the moratorium could be lifted early.

A committee will be formed to assist with creating regulations for a solar farm designation, over 10 acres in the county zoning ordinance.  Commissioner Stan Klotz will be a member along with County Plan Director Ty Adley.  Klotz and Adley will work on the make-up of the committee although a couple citizens who spoke at the meeting were asked to consider being on the committee.  It was stated that the committee would have representation from both sides of the issue.

 

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