AUBURN, Ind. (WANE)— The DeKalb County Plan Commission decided to not recommend a solar project after a public hearing Wednesday night.
This is one of four solar projects that were approved by state regulators this week. Indiana & Michigan Power said the developers are now working with local officials in those four counties, including DeKalb, to address any concerns and meet the requirements to gain local approval. According to I&M, one purpose of the project is to diversify its electric generating portfolio. The developer for this project is EDF Renewables.
The hearing lasted about two hours, and more than 100 community members attended the event. It was the first step in deciding the fate of the Sculpin Solar Project. The project is proposed to encompass more than 1,700 acres of land across 45 parcels. It has the potential to provide power to approximately 54,000 homes. The site is generally situated south of C.R. 34, west of C.R. 79, north of C.R.75A/C.R. 71 and east of S.R. 1.
First, there was a 15-minute presentation given by leaders of the Sculpin Solar Project. Then, there was an allowance for public comment: 20 minutes in favor and 20 minutes against.
The most common argument that those in favor of the development gave was the positive impact it could have on the county’s economy. Those against it are most concerned about property values dropping near the proposed site.
The Plan Commission’s decision didn’t totally satisfy those on either side.
Colben Steury is against the project.
“Although it wasn’t completely what we wanted, we are happy with the steps that we made toward protecting our county,” Steury said. “The Plan Commission did a good job at discussing the matter at hand, and I believe that’s going to give us a good lead in our commissioners choosing what is right for our county.”
William Miles is a DeKalb County farmer who would lease his land to the project if approved. He said this would help with his financial situation.
“Well, my interpretation [tonight] is a little bit nervous about it,” Miles said. “Farming solar versus farming chickens; I’d rather have solar in my backyard than a chicken farm in my backyard.”
The Plan Commission’s vote was heavily influenced by whether or not they believed the project would satisfy five matters to consider:
- Is the change in zoning in harmony with the county’s Comprehensive Plan?
- Do the current conditions and the character of current structures and uses in each district adapt to the proposed zoning?
- Is the change in zoning consistent with the most desirable use for which the land in each zoning district is adapted?
- Will the change in zoning help with the conservation of property values throughout the jurisdiction?
- Does the change in zoning promote responsible development and growth?
The Plan Commission’s decision to not recommend to the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners came after two ties when voting on whether to favorably or unfavorably recommend.
That decision will now be presented to the DeKalb County Commissioners and will be discussed at a hearing at 9 a.m. on Oct. 30.