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Boardman welcomes solar and wind technologies

BOARDMAN — While some Mahoning County townships have voiced staunch opposition to the development of wind and solar farms in their communities, Boardman has said the technology is welcome there, and officials are working to ensure that such facilities will not pose a problem.

Township Administrator Jason Loree said large-scale projects — those that would generate 50 megawatts of electricity or more — should be governed by the county. However, Boardman officials are working on policies for smaller-scale business operations and conditions for individual homeowners who want to upgrade their homes using solar technology.

“Before anything is constructed on that scale, we want to be sure there are policies in place, related to stormwater runoff and decommissioning of facilities,” Loree said.

Larger facilities already are required to submit applications through the Ohio Power Siting Board, which reviews and approves new wind and solar facilities.

Loree said the major concerns that officials have with wind and solar farms are similar to those they would have for coal or natural gas facilities.

“When new technology comes around, or if the site doesn’t stay active, we don’t just want solar cells sitting there not working; we want a plan to take them down,” he said. “We would seek to do that through a memorandum of understanding or a decommissioning bond between property owners and the community. When you’re doing that stuff you hope people are doing their due diligence.”

Loree also has said that large-scale farms would be nearly impossible to build in Boardman because the township likely does not have enough unincorporated property to support such an endeavor. He said smaller businesses are easier for local governments to manage, as are changes made to private homes.

“Smaller stuff, like ground and roof-mounted solar panels, and integrated technology like solar shingles or siding, we’re putting together language so people do it in a way that is consistent with zoning laws,” Loree said. “We already have some solar homes in Boardman, but we’re just trying to codify some regulations going forward.”

Loree said the township is taking its guidance from the Ohio Township Association, which provides a template for townships to draft policies on the issue.

“We intend to make sure we’re doing it right,” he said. “We don’t think wind and solar are a bad thing for our community. We just want people to understand there is a process for doing it, so follow the process.”

Boardman seems to be in the minority.

County commissioners last year banned wind and solar farms in Green Township after a request from its board of trustees. Earlier this month, more than 100 representatives and residents from at least 10 other townships attended a one-hour hearing hosted by the commissioners, as the board considers expanding the prohibition of large wind and solar facilities.

Those communities include Austintown, Beaver, Berlin, Canfield, Coitsville, Goshen, Jackson, Milton, Poland and Springfield townships. Only Ellsworth and Smith townships join Boardman in not opposing the facilities.

Commissioner Anthony Traficanti said the board will have a decision about expanding the ban within two weeks.

Have an interesting story? Contact Dan Pompili by email at dpompili@vindy.com.

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