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Thousands sign online petition to prevent major solar developments in Clark

Source: 
The Winchester Sun

More than 2,000 people have signed an online petition opposing commercial solar facilities in Clark County, before the local planning commission has voted on an amended ordinance.

In June, a presentation before the Clark County Fiscal Court indicated there was interest about developing a major solar facility in Clark County, as well as elsewhere in Kentucky.

At present, there is not a meeting or a vote scheduled for the local planning commission to vote on the matter, Planning Director Robert Jeffries said. The difficulty, he said, has been finding a large enough location to comply with social distancing guidelines. As a governmental entity, he said the meeting would be restricted to 50 percent capacity.

"We thought we were close to a location, but at the last minute they decided we could not have the meeting there," Jeffries said. "We just need to find a location."

The ordinance, which is posted on the city's planning commission website, would establish a text amendment to the zoning ordinance to allow solar energy facilities with a capacity of at least 20 megawatts. Such facilities would be allowed as a special use in agricultural areas of the county.

The petition, posted on change.org by Will Snowden, claims multiple commercial developers are interested in more than 5,000 acres in Clark County.

"Our prime farmland, wildlife habitat and residential property values are all threatened by these projects," the petition reads. "The proposed developments would severely impact the network of local businesses and jobs supported by our agricultural sector."

Jeffries said there have been no applications submitted, because the process, which would be spelled out in the ordinance, has not been approved.

"We have been contacted by several companies that would be interested," Jeffries said.

During a June Fiscal Court meeting, representatives of Geenex Solar said the company was in the early stages of planning a project in Clark County and other counties.

"Kentucky is a place where there will be a lot of solar to come," said Geenex Kentucky Director of Operations Douglas Schulte said.

John P. Romph, a Winchester attorney who told the court he was representing a solar company, said there were no specific projects in Clark County, but the companies were asking for the text amendment.

Jeffries said the current zoning ordinance does not mention solar energy facilities.

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