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Wind, solar farms won’t see daylight in some areas

Weathersfield among townships prohibiting construction

WEATHERSFIELD — At a recent meeting, trustees joined several other Trumbull County townships asking that county commissioners prohibit the construction of economically significant or large wind farms and large solar facilities in Weathersfield.

The motion Weathersfield trustees adopted followed state guidelines as described in Ohio Senate Bill 52.

“The state legislature put some authorizing legislation on not too long ago that authorizes counties and local communities to regulate large solar /wind farms in their communities,” Weathersfield Township Administrator David Rouan said.

The bill permits county commissioners throughout Ohio to “prevent power siting board certification of certain wind and solar facilities, to provide for ad hoc members of the power siting board, and to establish decommissioning requirements for certain wind and solar facilities,” according to Ohio Legislature documents.

With the legislation having been in effect since 2021, Trumbull County commissioners have taken the initiative by surveying which townships want to prohibit solar and wind farms.

“The purpose for our involvement was that they had asked us to do a survey of the townships to see if they were interested in participating in that restricted area designation,” Trumbull County Planning Director Julie Green said. “They were just trying to get a feel as to what townships would want their geographic boundaries included and which ones would not.”

According to Ohio Revised Code section 303.58, the commissioners can approve a resolution to designate a restricted area at a regular meeting or special board meeting for the purpose of discussing such legislation.

At least 30 days prior to such a meeting, the county must provide public notice of the date and time of the meeting in a newspaper publication. It must post a map publicly showing the boundaries of the proposed restricted area at all public libraries in the county. And it must provide written notice of the meeting by first class mail to all school districts, municipal corporations and boards of township trustees located within the boundaries of the proposed restricted area.

Green said during discussions regarding the restricted area, several townships already have said they want to join.

“There have been a number that have already vocalized that they would want to participate in that,” she said.

According to Ohio Revised Code, economically significant wind farms are defined as “wind turbines and associated facilities with a single interconnection to the electrical grid and designed for, or capable of, operation at an aggregate capacity of five or more megawatts but less than 50 megawatts.”

Weathersfield is one of several townships that has voted to prohibit large or economically significant solar farms.

In June, Vienna trustees voted to send a request to the Trumbull County commissioners to adopt a resolution supporting the township’s prohibition of large solar panel farms.

Vienna officials said a main reason the prohibition was added to the zoning was concern about reflecting solar panels causing problems for pilots leaving the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport and the Youngstown Air Reserve Station, which are in the township.

In August, Mecca trustees approved a resolution to prohibit solar or wind farms on township properties. At the time, Trustee Jim Governor said the solar and wind farms “are ugly.”

However, not all townships have moved to block wind or solar farms.

In Kinsman, trustees voted in September to designate none of its township land as a restricted area for construction of the farms. At the time, trustees said they felt that much of the land in Kinsman is restricted and the zoning resolution addresses much of township property usage, so there was no need to further regulate township residents’ properties.

Green said the commissioners have been trying to get feedback through the planning commission office since July. The deadline for townships to respond to the commissioners’ survey is in early November.

“If the commissioners wanted to go back and revise their restrictionary resolution at a later date, they can do that,” Green said. “They wanted to take action for those townships who are requesting the action.”

In Weathersfield, Rouan said the trustees’ decision came down to what they felt was best for residents. He said Weathersfield does not have any immediate concern about a wind or solar farm planned in its township, but the resolution the township adopted will erase any need to worry.

“I don’t know that there’s imminent concern, but of course it’s a possibility,” Rouan said. “The trustees have determined that it’s not suitable for our community.”

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