The North Annville Township Planning Commission met Monday night to consider proposed revisions to the township’s 2019 solar energy ordinance, which is the basis for a proposed 1,200-acre solar panel farm that has sparked widespread public resistance.
Commission chairman Nelson Heagy told the roughly 50 residents present that any recommended changes to the current solar ordinance would have to be passed by the township’s board of supervisors, and would not affect the pending application by Lebanon Solar I, LLC.
Instead, Heagy said, a revised solar ordinance, which is part of the township’s overall zoning law, could impose additional requirements and restrictions on developers who may want to install solar farms in the future.
Last night the planning commission presented a preliminary draft of a revised solar ordinance and heard comments and suggestions from those present.
A major topic of discussion was the definition of “lot” and the maximum percentage of a lot that could be covered by solar panels and other structures. Lebanon Solar I’s pending solar farm application totals 1,200 acres by combining several separate but adjacent farms across their individual boundary lines.
The township’s supervisors initially considered Lebanon Solar I’s application at their June 7 meeting, at which unhappy residents grilled the developer’s representatives.
A hearing before the township’s supervisors to decide whether to approve the application of the Colorado-based company was scheduled for June 24, but cancelled at the last minute at the request of the developer.
At the time, Paul Bametzreider, the township’s attorney, suggested in a letter announcing the cancellation that the developer might be willing to consider changing the project in response to the vociferous community opposition.
None of the parties have said whether negotiations are underway.
The supervisors must hold a hearing on Lebanon Solar I’s conditional-use application by Sept. 13. No date has been announced.
A conditional use is a use of property that is permitted as long as the applicant can meet the criteria contained in the zoning ordinance for that particular use.
Lebanon Solar I maintains that its planned solar farm meets all requirements of the current 2019 ordinance.
Residents opposed to the development fear declining property values, electromagnetic radiation, ruined sight lines, noise from the switching station, harm to wildlife, glare distracting passing drivers, electrical and brush fires, and possible pollution to drinking water wells.