Greene landowners concerned over potential solar farm

Greene landowners concerned over potential solar farm

Farmers and property owners around the villages of Yellow Springs and Cedarville are concerned about the potential for a large solar farm being built in their rural community.

The group held an informational meeting Friday evening at Grace Baptist Church, 109 N. Main St., Cedarville.

Nothing official is on file with state or local authorities on plans by a foreign company to build a large solar photo-voltaic array on Greene County farmland in Miami, Cedarville and Xenia townships.

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However, township officials have confirmed receiving a letter representing Sydney, Australia-based company Lendlease about the project.

Lendlease has not submitted an application or provided notification of plans for a solar farm in Greene County, according to Public Utilities Commission of Ohio spokesman Matt Schilling.

“It’s a bit early in the process,” Schilling said.

The ultimate authority on whether an electric-generating project of 50 megawatts or higher moves forward is the Ohio Power Siting Board, Schilling said.

The topic was raised by a resident at the April 1 Miami Twp. trustees’ meeting, but trustees advised they had no details to share.

Miami Twp. Zoning Inspector Richard Zopf said local zoning control would not apply for such a large project.

“The township can be involved in the process of working out the details of the plan, but the township has no authority in approving or denying the project,” Zopf said.

Local Farmer Joe Krajicek and several other property owners say they’ve been approached by a third party representing Lendlease in an effort to secure lease agreements on their lands.

Krajicek said based on county records he has viewed and conversations with individual land owners, Lendlease has already secured more than six agreements with property owners for leasing hundreds of acres.

Krajicek, who owns 47 acres along Tarbox-Cemetery Road, said he was approached two years ago with an offer to lease his land. He said he turned them down and wishes other landowners would do the same.

“They are soliciting older farmers who are close to retirement, who have no heirs to carry on the farming business,” Krajicek said. “They are choosing financial security, but it will have a negative impact on the community … This is big business coming in under the radar and making acquisitions.”

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Krajicek said he supports solar energy and other renewable energy sources, but he listed several concerns for such a large-scale endeavor that would permanently change wide swaths of prime farming land.

Krajicek’s concerns include the chemicals used to control weeds seeping into the ground water; the heat generated above the black, photo-voltaic panels; the impact to wildlife; and who would ultimately own the solar farm.

Messages left with Lendlease representatives were not returned.

For more information, send an email to Krajicek at krajicek@sbcglobal.net.

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