Fifth Greene County township declared off-limits from large-scale solar/wind, sixth in the works

Jefferson Twp. has joined a number of townships in Greene County that have been approved by the Greene County Commission to be off-limits from large-scale solar and wind utilities. Portions of Miami Twp. are next on the list, making nearly half of Greene County a restricted area from large-scale solar and wind development.

The Greene County Board of Commissioners approved Jefferson Twp.’s request Thursday to declare it a restricted area from large-scale or “economically significant” solar and wind farms, to maintain the “agricultural outline” of the community, according to public documents.

Jefferson follows Cedarville Twp., Xenia Twp., Sugarcreek Twp., and Ross Twp. in acquiring the designation.

Jefferson Twp. is primarily a farming community, said Trustee Richard Zehring, adding that most residents the trustees spoke with didn’t want solar developments on farm ground.

“Farmland is needed to feed people and raise their own families on. It would be taking good farmland away for nothing,” he said.

Jefferson Twp. is home to just over 1,100 people, according to the 2020 census, and includes the village of Bowersville in southeast Greene County.

Miami Twp. passed its own resolution Monday, asking the commissioners to declare the land south and east of the Little Miami River a restricted area for “economically significant wind farms, large wind farms, and large-scale solar facilities” for a period of 2 years.

That restricted area is where Kingwood Solar, run by Texas-based Vesper Energy wanted to build solar panels in a plan struck down by the Ohio Power Siting Board last year.

The Kingwood Solar project would have placed solar panels on roughly 1,200 acres (just shy of two square miles) of Miami, Xenia and Cedarville Twps. The siting board struck down Kingwood’s application to build the 175-megawatt facility in December, citing “overwhelming” public backlash. Constructing the project would have generated over $1.5 million in tax revenue for the county, according to the company.

Kingwood has since appealed the decision, both to the agency and to the Ohio Supreme Court.

At a November public hearing, 28 people testified in person, with 16 in support of designating Miami Twp. as restricted, and 12 against. Another 18 people provided written testimony who were evenly split in their viewpoints. A second community meeting was held in May in which all residents who spoke were in favor of the designation.

In May, the township also passed a moratorium on small-scale solar facilities in the township, except for “single family home structures,” according to township documents.

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