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Zoning commission may limit small scale solar in Miami Township, Greene County

Installation of solar PV panels - panels in place
David Hawgood
Wikimedia Commons
Installation of solar PV panels - panels in place

Miami Township in Greene County’s Zoning Commission will be revising their regulations around small scale solar projects.

The commission meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 19 was the second discussion on potential changes to their zoning code, which they started reviewing last month, said township officials.

Since the passage of Senate Bill 52 in Ohio, certain counties in the state have worked with townships to prohibit solar projects above 50 megawatts.

But solar facilities below that threshold leave questions for the zoning commission on what they want to allow.

Especially how these facilities fit into the township’s goals of prioritizing farmland, said zoning chair Brian Corry.

“We're all capturing the sun, but we don't need large infrastructure panels and substations and things like that,” said Corry, who also farms. “It's being used to generate electricity for public consumption at the commercial scale utility. So I wonder how that really fits with our comprehensive land use plan.”

Some township landowners generate solar for their own properties.

But the zoning commissioners said they don’t have specific guidelines for landowners seeking to sell the energy they generate, for example.

Miami Township zoning commissioner Dale Amstutz said commissioners have to consider how these solar developments affect their neighbors, not just the landowners that permit them on their own property.

They're used to looking out their window across that field for a mile and see fields and trees and everything. Now they're going to be looking out here and looking at those solar panels. If you are my neighbor, would you want to look at that?”

Amstuz said he’s been approached by companies to install solar projects on his land.

Township resident Jenifer Adams said she has concerns about how farmland may be compromised by solar.

“Right now the technology is too new. It's changing too fast. The solar panels proposed in one project are not the same as in another, and there are too many unknowns,” she said.

Several residents of the township and surrounding villages at the December meeting said they don’t want the commission to create rules that make it too difficult for projects to move forward.

Miami Township resident Frederick Stockwell was one of the residents that expressed this sentiment.

If you limit solar energy to only personal residence use, then there is no option for the community to participate in any community solar project,” he explained. “So people who want to use their own resources to participate in clean energy but have no personal space or property for that could not join an organization or project that wants to [produce] solar energy for local benefit.”

Bob Brecha from Yellow Springs also spoke at the meeting. He works as a professor at the University of Dayton and specializes in renewable and clean energy research.

He said farmers that decide on their own to participate in solar production should be able.

“If we're talking about farmers who want to lease part of their land for this particular way of gathering sunlight and making energy that's useful for the rest of society, including in our area, I think that that's a good thing to be considered and certainly shouldn't be forbidden fundamentally,” he said.

On Dec. 18, the township Board of Trustees postponed a vote on a six-month moratorium on small solar energy developments.

The township previously issued a moratorium in May this year, which lapsed in November, according to township documents.

Township officials also discussed the possibility of a survey to gain residents’ thoughts around small scale solar.

The next zoning commission meeting will be held on January 16.

Adriana Martinez-Smiley (she/they) is the Environment and Indigenous Affairs Reporter for WYSO. They grew up in Hamilton, Ohio and graduated from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism in June 2023. Before joining WYSO, her work has been featured in NHPR, WBEZ and WTTW.

Email: amartinez-smiley@wyso.org
Cell phone: 937-342-2905
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