LISBON — Residents of Franklin Township concerned about the solar panel project proposed for the Summitville area came to the Columbiana County Commissioners on Wednesday for an update.
Henry Bergfeld and Diane Brown asked if the commissioners had heard anything new about the upcoming deadlines for the project and when there was going to be a public hearing.
Brown suggested they consider having the public hearing at the St. John Catholic Church when it does occur. She said the church seems to have a staging area for the solar panel project right next to it and those attending the public hearing should see that.
Additionally, she said 168 people have signed petitions against the project, which may not seem like a lot until one realizes there are only 790 residents living in the township. Brown said she believes the only people for the project are the three major property owners.
The project proposed by Liberty Power would place solar panels on 1,132 acres in Franklin Township and is known as the Kensington Solar Project, which reportedly will generate 145-megawatts. However, the proposal for the project notes they have access to 2,264 acres on 37 properties, which gives them the design flexibility to optimize the project. The project calls for installing 42,800 posts to hold the solar panels.
Should the proposed solar panels be installed on all 2,264 acres, Brown said they will cover about a fifth of the acreage of the township.
She also expressed concerns if people begin to move away because of the solar panels, the tax money for students and property owners will go with them.
Bergfeld asked commissioners to consider passing a resolution against the project before it goes to the steps of formal hearings, which is when it will be decided whether or not the project is approved. At the same time, some preparation work is reportedly already happening in the area with some road damage and equipment being moved. They agreed they would continue to keep an eye on the situation.
In other matters:
— Commissioners approved appointing Sarah Tolson, a licensed professional clinical counselor with a supervisory designation, to serve on the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board for four years.
— Commissioners will apply for a credit card for the office with a $25,000 limit through Farmers National Bank.
— Commissioners approved for the engineer to advertise for bids for cationic emulsified asphalt, for upcoming road projects this summer.