Community members fight against proposed solar project | News, Sports, Jobs


For the editor:

We in Franklin Township are, unwittingly, in a fight for our livelihood and our way of life.

A massive utility-scale solar project threatens to gobble up 2,264 acres of our beautiful township. Three non-resident landowners (and one owner with no planned panels near their residence) have signed 35-year leases with a Canadian company to occupy farmland with solar panels. These panels will cover approximately 900 football pitches of our hilly landscape.

The project will be near three churches, two cemeteries and will encompass the villages of Milport and Summitville. For obvious reasons, township residents, church members, neighboring farmers and area businesses oppose the project. We expressed our opposition by signing petitions, putting up NO SOLAR PROJECT signs and becoming members of a group of concerned citizens called FAKS (Franklin Against Kensington Solar). You can learn more about the project on the website: theFAKS.org.

But today I want to address the one recurring concern about our opposition that we have heard, and whose logic we can also see when first mentioned. The concern is: “Don’t tell property owners what they can and can’t do with their property.” In fact, Farm Bureau stands firm in this position. And we agree with this statement when trespassers wish to damage or use our lands for their own purposes.

Examples of this could be the installation of pipelines and new bike lanes through the easiest path, farmland. Often developers are unwilling to adequately compensate landowners for losses, bearing in mind that sometimes things are priceless or their value is not understood.

However, that is not what is happening here. We have a huge industrialized solar project that wants to use farmland to generate a very limited amount of electricity right next to residents and nearby farmland. The construction process will take a year to install 37 miles of access roads under the project (3,000 truckloads of gravel), 42,801 hammered steel I-beam posts to mount more than 353,684 panels and 39 miles of prison-like fence around the panels, among so many other foreign materials. Then this unsightly will be there for 35-40 years.

Recently, a Salem resident commented: “Don’t tell your neighbors what to do.” Really?! Have you looked at your city’s zoning plan? You have 13 classifications of what people can and cannot do with their property, limiting the location of everything from single family residence to heavy industry. And that’s not all. There are long restriction resolutions like “No person shall harbor or keep bees… which cause inconvenience to other persons or damage to property”; “No person shall harbor or keep in or on any residential property more than five dogs or five cats or a combination thereof, not to exceed five at any one time”; Where “No one shall keep pigs, sheep or goats in the city. Horses, cattle and chickens cannot be kept within 150 feet of any residence” (Salem codes 505.13-505.15)

We’re not reinventing the wheel here in Franklin Township, Columbiana County. Cities across the country are telling people to keep agriculture out of town and telling industrial companies where they can go. We are only asking to keep the solar industry away from our homes and farmlands. There is a place for everything. Solar projects should go where the sun shines like the western states or on contaminated land like reclaimed coal fields, or how about parking lots or city rooftops.

We only have 42% possible daylight hours with sunny or partly sunny conditions here in northeast Ohio. Additionally, many of our residences and much of our farmland is downstream from these proposed panels which will be cleaned and de-iced with chemicals that will flow to our fields and the water supply that feeds our families. and our cattle.

So you say: “Why didn’t you put zoning in place to stop such an invasion?” Well, who would have thought such a thing could happen here; it does not make sense ! So we’ll stop this atrocious project and then, believe me, we’ll enact the provisions of Senate Bill 52 that allow county commissioners to stop an area from allowing utility-sized projects like this in our beautiful canton.

Until then, we will use the powers granted to us, at present, from PUCO through the Ohio Power Siting Board to voice our opposition through public comment and voice our opinion at the next public audience. We will ask that the intent of SB 52 be recognized, demanding that the OPSB respect the overwhelming opposition.

Diane Brown,

Co-Chair of Franklin Against Kensington Solar (FAKS-PAC),

Summitville




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