Neighbors organize against a new solar farm coming to St. Joseph County

NOW: Neighbors organize against a new solar farm coming to St. Joseph County

SAINT JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. -- Neighbors organize against a new solar farm coming to St. Joseph County.

A group called Rethink Industrial Solar is pushing against plans to install solar panels on 2500 acres of farmland near North Liberty.

A full house gathered at Thursday night's meeting regarding the proposed 300-megawatt solar farm in North Liberty.

Amanda Mitchell who started Rethink Industrial Solar is concerned about its close proximity to Potato Creek State Park.

“We have a lot of wildlife out here, it's what drew us to this area, so concerns about the wildlife corridor, being able to transport, we have a lot of animals that come across our property, and personally we are going to have it right up against us,” said Mitchell.

 The Senior Director of Development for Hexagon Energy Scott Remer tells ABC57 the project is still in its early stages with groundbreaking more than 2 years away and is shocked to hear people claim there's been a lack of transparency.

One resident, who says he was approached by Hexagon to option his farmland, believes neighbors should have the option to sell or lease land for the project.

“I'm not a solar guy, I don't think it's the solution, but I think people should be able to do what they want with their ground, so I support my neighbor if he chooses to do it, I'm not going to have a problem with it,” said Joe Lane, a resident.

There is a 2020 county law that allows renewable energy projects to be built on land without having to rezone, so deals can be made without getting additional permits or public input.

County Council Member Amy Drake says this may be the reason why people aren't aware of this new proposed plant and wants to see new rules to involve the public in solar projects.

“That makes people not really realize when a solar plant is coming in or a solar installation is coming in, which makes people really uncomfortable, so we wanna put in some common use rules for solar,” said Drake.

The County's area plan commission will discuss new solar ordinances including requiring a special use to build on agricultural land on June 18thwith a final vote on July 9.

Share this article: