Whether a proposed 858-acre solar panel farm in rural North Annville Township will be built is in the hands of a local judge, and there is no word on when a decision will be handed down.

Colorado-based Lebanon Solar I LLC, a subsidiary of Enel Green Power, which is in turn an arm of Italian multi-national energy company Enel S.p.A., announced its plans in early 2021, resulting in  both opposition and support from residents.

The project is targeted for 12 agriculturally-zoned properties west of Route 934 that have been leased from their owners.

The township’s zoning ordinance doesn’t automatically permit such a use in an agricultural district. Instead, Lebanon Solar I applied to the township for a conditional-use permit.

A conditional use is allowed as long as the applicant meets specific conditions required by the zoning ordinance. A municipality can impose additional reasonable conditions on the use.

In April 2022, following three well-attended and contentious public meetings, North Annville supervisors denied Lebanon Solar I’s conditional-use application, and the developer filed an appeal to the Lebanon County Court of Common Pleas, as reported by Lancaster Farming.

On appeal, Lebanon Solar I contends that it has “presented evidence conclusively establishing that it met all eight enumerated conditions [for a conditional use] of the Ordinance applicable to solar farms.” It also argues that the supervisors violated the Pennsylvania Municipal Planning Code by not deliberating publicly or issuing a written statement of its reasons for denying the conditional use.

The township has asked Judge Bradford Charles to dismiss Lebanon Solar I’s appeal.

Attorneys for both sides appeared before Judge Charles on Jan. 6 to argue their respective legal positions. Charles had not ruled on the appeal by publication time.

Either party could appeal further to the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court if it is unhappy with the judge’s ruling.

Read more about the proposed North Annville solar farm:

North Annville residents sound off on proposed solar farm project

North Annville Township set for solar farm hearing on June 24

[Letter] Farmer supporting North Annville solar project

[Letter] Response to farmer supporting North Annville solar project

N. Annville Twp. Planning Commission considers changes to solar ordinance

[Letter] Is Enel telling the truth about taxes?

[Letter] Solar farms are family farms in North Annville Township

[Letter] Lebanon Solar protects my future and the future of farming

[Lancaster Farming] Lebanon Solar Conditional Use Denied

[Lancaster Farming] Lebanon Solar Appeals Township Decision

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Chris Coyle writes primarily on government, the courts, and business. He retired as an attorney at the end of 2018, after concentrating for nearly four decades on civil and criminal litigation and trials. A career highlight was successfully defending a retired Pennsylvania state trooper who was accused,...

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