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Whitley County could leave industrial solar farms in the dark for 1 year

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Industrial solar farms may have to wait up to a year before breaking ground in Whitley County.

At the Whitley County Plan Commission regular meeting on Wednesday, members discussed whether or not to recommend the county impose a solar farm moratorium.

That moratorium would disallow the new development of industrial solar farms in the county for up to a year, or until county commissioners make a decision on an agreeable solar ordinance.

They are pursuing something “agreeable” due to public outcry over a proposed solar farm put forth by Columbia City Solar.

The proposal for that farm was withdrawn at Wednesday night’s meeting due to that feedback.

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However, after hearing multiple residents plead for the commission to recommend the county approve the moratorium, the commission voted to give the county commissioners no recommendation.

Now, the county commissioners have to make a decision without an opinion from the Plan Commission, which is not what they were looking for when they introduced the amendment.

“[We] felt like things were moving too fast, and we needed to slow down and give us more time.” said 2nd District Whitley County Commissioner Rob Shuman. “That’s why I moved the Plan Commission to enact this moratorium two weeks ago.”

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The county commissioners can now choose to vote on the issue during their upcoming meetings.

As for the public, many that showed up tonight want the commissioners to take their time and make it harder for big solar farms to move in.

Many are currently unsatisfied with how close solar panels can be to property lines.

“Our ordinance currently has the foundation of a home listed as one of the setbacks,” said resident Joan Null. “I don’t just own the little postage stamp my house sits on, I own my entire property.”

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When asked how much of a setback she would like, Null responded 250 or 300 feet.

Whitley County Commissioners meet the first and third Mondays of each month; however, it is not known how soon they will make a decision on the moratorium.

As reported by WANE 15