Public hearing date set for county solar project zoning regulations

YORK COUNTY – A public hearing date has officially been set for the long-awaited public hearing regarding solar project zoning regulations in York County.

The public hearing, during which the draft of regulations will be presented and members of the public will have the opportunity to comment, will be held Monday, April 15, at 5:30 p.m. The location will be announced after it is secured and confirmed. As of Tuesday morning, April 2, the York County Commissioners were pursuing the booking of a space at the Holthus Convention Center in York, but that booking had not yet been confirmed as of this publication.

The confirmation of the public hearing date arrived Tuesday morning as the county board members were tasked with discussing and acting on the final formulation of proposed solar regulations. During many past meetings, the county board members have gone over each detail in the draft, making changes, alterations and decisions as to what they will put forward to the public.

York County Commissioner Chairman Randy Obermier acknowledged that while their final recommendations were determined during their last meeting, they didn’t officially act on them – which he said was a good thing because there were still some additions/verbiage/details that needed to be clarified and included.

“I sat down, as did Daniel (Commissioner Grotz) and listened to the recording of our last meeting, again, to make sure the written regulations we are bringing forward fully include all of the board’s intentions,” Obermier said. “We found a few small details need to be added. Also, regarding the setbacks for non-participating properties without residential dwellings, it was in there at 660 feet. Is that the intent of the board?” as it wasn’t outlined in the latest draft.

The other board members said yes, that was their intent, and that set-back will be clearly identified in the final draft.

“Also a question has come up about the 1% cap on the total amount of agricultural land in the county which can be used for solar projects,” Grotz said. “The intent of that was not to exclude small acreage/business/personal use sizes of solar projects. So I wonder should we add in that regulation how the 1% cap would only pertain to the amount of land used for large commercial solar projects? Or do we just leave it as it is written now?”

“I was of the understanding the intent was for Class 4 (large commercial solar projects), so I’d be fine if we added that wordage,” Obermier said, “and leave the small ones out of that” total use of land.

“As it is worded now, if someone wanted to do a small acreage solar project of their own, it could be capped (or part of the total towards the cap) and I don’t think that was the intent,” Grotz said.

Obermier said he felt Class 4 solar projects would pertain to the 1% total use of ag land for solar – the other four commissioners said they also wanted to include Class 3 solar projects. Per the majority, what will be moving forward, toward the types of projects pertaining to the 1% cap of land used for solar, will be Classes 3 and 4 projects.

Grotz made the motion to formalize the recommended zoning regulations for the purpose of public hearing on April 15.

Obermier said he still felt some setbacks for large solar projects were too much, so he’d be voting no. The other four commissioners voted yes and the matter was officially set for hearing.


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