MARKLEVILLE – As local authorities continue to work on a new ordinance to regulate commercial solar parks, residents south of Markleville are concerned about a potential project.
A moratorium on commercial solar farms on more than 50 acres in Madison County expired on July 7. This means that any request submitted to the county planning department would fall under the existing ordinance, which opponents view as less stringent than the proposed ordinance.
Kaela Albert is one of the leaders opposed to the solar park project and a nearby battery storage facility.
Albert and his family moved from Hamilton County about a year ago.
“I work from home, and there had been a gentleman who came to our door several times,” she said of the solar park project. “The third time he came back, I opened the door and he asked me if I knew the landowners here.
Albert said the man represented Next Era Energy and wanted to buy 1,200 to 1,600 acres of farmland for an industrial solar farm.
“My house would be literally surrounded,” she said. “No landowner has told me they have signed leases, but surveys are underway.
“If this comes to pass, there is nothing we can do,” said Albert. “Who is going to want to move to the area with very few amenities and surrounded by a solar farm in their garden.”
Albert said if the proposed new county ordinance included a property value guarantee, it wouldn’t make it more favorable to the project.
“I knocked on doors,” she said. “There wasn’t a single person who knew about this until I told them about it.”
Neighbors talked about a petition and attended meetings related to the proposal.
Albert said his family moved to rural Madison County for a rural and farming lifestyle.
“Maybe I’ll have to watch him go.”
Matt Hoppe lives on the corner of a recently renovated electrical substation; an agricultural field is to the east of his property.
He is concerned about a county drain on the east side of his property which has several large trees living along the drain.
Hoppe worries that the trees will be removed, which would give him a great view of the solar park and its panels.
He also tried to determine which of the surrounding landlords might be willing to lease space for a solar park.
“I couldn’t say much if they built a solar farm,” Hoppe said. “I don’t know how much it would devalue my property if they cut down the trees. “
Von Smith lived in Adams Township for most of his 74 years and owns a small farm.
A neighboring landlord said people who own a farm field behind his property have no intention of renting the property, Smith said. “The landowners in the west will probably sell.
“I’m going to have to look at (the solar panels),” he said. “It all comes down to the mighty dollar. “
Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 765-640-4863.