April 22, 2022

Hancock County bans wind, solar

Lou Wilin | The Advertiser-Tribune | Apr 21, 2022 | advertiser-tribune.com

FINDLAY – The Hancock County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday voted to ban solar and wind farms from much of Hancock County.

The ban takes effect May 19 and would apply to all of Hancock County except Findlay, the villages and Biglick Township, on the county’s far east side.

The ban could hinder economic and job growth because companies increasingly want wind or solar power, said Findlay-Hancock County Economic Development Director Tim Mayle.

The ban does not apply to two proposed solar projects – one in Cass Township, the other in Washington Township – currently being considered for approval by the Ohio Power Siting Board. That’s because those projects were proposed before a new state law allowing county boards of commissioners to ban wind and solar projects.

Voting for the widespread ban were Commissioners Michael Pepple and William Bateson. Opposed was Commissioner Timothy Bechtol.

The prospect of new solar and wind projects has sparked fierce opposition among many county residents.

Over 20 people attended Tuesday’s meeting. Nine residents voiced support for the ban. They have expressed fears that solar farms would take farm land out of use and ruin it; cause drainage problems and flooding; disturb gas and oil wells; contaminate water wells; harm wildlife; and reduce property values.

Fifteen of Hancock County’s townships passed resolutions asking the commissioners to completely ban all such projects. Only Biglick and Blanchard townships did not.

Bechtol, who voted against the ban, has warned solar and wind opponents that the resolution approved Tuesday could be overruled by a referendum vote of the people. Bechtol would prefer the commissioners consider wind and solar farm proposals on a case-by-case basis. Their decisions in those cases would not be subject to referendum.

If the commissioners considered each wind and solar proposal on its own merits, they still could protect residents’ interests, he said.

Tuesday’s vote is subject to a referendum. But if a referendum would occur, its proponents would have to mount a petition drive soon. The ban would begin May 19, or 30 days after the commissioners’ vote, unless the commissioners would be presented referendum petitions containing the signatures of 2,275 registered Hancock County voters.

The number 2,275 represents 8% of the total votes cast in Hancock County for all candidates for governor in 2018.

URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2022/04/22/hancock-county-bans-wind-solar/