Farmers, property owners debate solar zoning

MARSHALL COUNTY, Ind. -- Tougher regulations for solar companies in Marshall County are in limbo after a jam-packed community meeting. Monday, county commissioners took no action on the proposed rules to reign in solar companies.

Now, commissioners have 90 days to make a call on this and it's clear the people of Marshall County are invested in their decision.

The debate over whether a solar company can lease out farmland to build solar arrays goes far beyond renewable energy. It’s become a heated debate over property rights, farmland preservation, tax and property values, and so much more.

While many are happy to bring in development and make their farmlands solar fields, others are worried solar companies are running amok, eating away already sparse farmland without proper regulations in place.

The amendments to the zoning laws, in their second reading, dealt with several areas of concern, but the two most prominent: 1) capping land leased to solar companies at 12,000, and 2) increasing the distance between solar infrastructure and other property—from 250 to 325 feet.  

Ultimately, one commissioner motioned to approve the new regulations, but couldn’t get a second on that motion, so it did not pass, and the debate continues.  

Now, the original ordinance is the law of the land—for now.  

Commissioners explained if no action is taken in 90 days—an approval, denial, amendment or moratorium placed—then the amendments will go into effect.  

Those amendments can be read here.

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