Commission approves county amendments to solar field ordinance

COLUMBUS, Ind. — The Bartholomew County Plan Commission in a 5-2 vote has approved changes submitted by the county commissioners to an ordinance regulating placement of solar fields.

The commission approved changes submitted by commissioners to the original recommendations approved by the plan commission in August. Tom Finke and Arnold Haskill cast the only ‘nay’ votes at the end of the two-hour meeting.

“I’ve been a (county) commissioner for almost two years, and this is the most contentious issue to come before us,” said Tony London, who also sits on the plan commission. “Some say animal control is more contentious, but this issue has resulted in the most feedback.”

Although Bartholomew County’s solar field ordinance is now in place, large scale projects such as the proposed 200-megawatt Swallowtail Solar Farm won’t be considered until next year, London said.

That’s because developers Arevon Energy Inc. and Teneska will have to make specific plans for the project east of Columbus, west of State Road 9 and north of East 25th St.

For each proposed solar field development, a public hearing will be held before the Bartholomew County Board of Zoning Appeals before board members take a vote based on a specific set of criteria.

One of the key factors within the ordinance is that it allows negotiations between solar energy companies and neighboring farmers to reduce the established setbacks.

For more on  this story, see Friday’s Republic.