Commissioners, Cadence At Odds Over Landscaping

MARYSVILLE – While the Cadence Solar Project is scheduled to begin construction in September of this year, what the site will look like from the road or from surrounding properties remains up in the air following a presentation from Invenergy (Cadence’s parent company) this morning to the Union County Board of Commissioners at their regular weekly meeting.

Following a presentation from Invenergy’s Erin Saal, Senior Associate Renewable Development, the Commissioners had plenty to say about what kind of fencing and landscaping will be shielding the solar farms from the county byways and adjacent homes.

Listen to Ms. Saal short synopsis of the presentation she gave the Commission this morning here:

But all three commissioners had their doubts about how the fencing and landscaping will come into play once the solar farms are in place. While Ms. Saal told those in attendance this morning that Invenergy is planning on using treated-wood fencing and shrubbery, a photo of a similar site that was issued to the Commissioners showed nothing of the sort, instead depicting bare ground and a chain link fence surrounding a large array of panels. Commissioner Robinson was particularly skeptical about the ground cover that will be placed under the solar panels and how that ground cover would be maintained. We caught up with Commissioner Robinson after the meeting:

The big hurdle the Commission must overcome in respects to imposing its will on how the solar panel farms should be protected, fenced and landscaped is the Ohio Power Siting Board, which also has a large say in the matter. It’s possible that the OPSB may rule that chain-link fences with barbed wire tops without any landscaping or cover may be sufficient for security reasons surrounding solar farms, where the Union County Commission would, judging by their comments today, would completely disagree and do their utmost to throw roadblocks in the way it should come down to that. Commissioner Dave Burke worried aloud that the solar farms’ need for “security” may overtake the County’s insistence on aesthetics, foreshadowing what may become a three-way row between the Commission (and its Union County constituents), the OPSB and Invenergy, with all three commissioners leaning very heavily to the side of shielding the solar farms from the roads and surrounding properties with aesthetically pleasing fencing and extensive landscaping.

The Commission took no action on Invenergy’s report today, but expressed its intention to do so in the near future and keep its hand in it throughout the entire process.

Also today, the Commission gave consent for the county to enter into negotiations with GSP for the installation of approximately 3.2 miles of fiber from the Marysville city limits along State Route 4 to the radio tower. County Administrator Bill Narducci said that the county has worked with GSP in the past and has been very satisfied with their work and their bid met the prevailing wage provisions as required, prompting the Commission to give Mr. Narducci the green light to enter into contract talks for the fiber line placement.

THE Commission also today approved resolutions for California Hills Section 13 performance letter of credit, annual labor and equipment rates, reappointed Mr. Narducci to the Jerome Village community authority board of trustees and also appointed of Steve Stolte to the Jerome Village Community Authority Board of Trustees .

The Union County Commission will meet again in regular session Wednesday, February 8 at 8:30 am in Commission Chambers, 233 W. 6th St.

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