EUREKA — For the second time in two months, the Woodford County Zoning board has recommended approval of a 2-megawatt solar farm on agricultural land that abuts a Eureka residential subdivision.
And for the fourth time since May, residents of the Lakeview Acres subdivision on Tuesday showed up to a public meeting to reinforce their opposition to the solar facility they believe will violate the rural integrity of their community and bring unwelcome troubles.
"It is incompatible to have 25 acres of solar panels next to a residential area," Eureka Mayor Scott Zimmer told the board, expressing what may be the last legal foothold opponents can stand on to stop the project.
A Tri-County Regional Planning Commission analysis of the issue found a solar farm to be compatible with all seven points the zoning board must consider in its decision — including no health or safety issues — but it might have left a small opening for a legal challenge. The planning commission analysis cited a solar farms compatibility with the surrounding agricultural use, but said it was " less" compatible, but not incompatible, with adjacent residential use.
The 25 acres of land to be leased by Georgia-based Sol America Energy is located west/southwest of Marshall Road behind the last row of houses in the Lakeview Acres subdivision in Eureka.
With the zoning board making its recommendation of support of the solar farm by a 3-2 vote, the conflict now moves back to the full Woodford County Board for an expected vote at its Oct. 25 meeting. Zoning board chairman Jerry Smith and board member Chris Heilman voted against the recommendation. Board members Jerry Lay, Kim Holmes and Teresa Gauger voted to approve the recommendation.
Tuesday's repeat vote on the same topic was necessary after the county board in August returned the issue to the zoning board because of a perceived procedural error. At the July zoning meeting chairman Smith cut-off final rebuttal from residents and proceeded to the vote. On Tuesday, residents had a limited chance of rebuttal, but could only comment on specific points made by Sol America at the July hearing. Only Zimmer, and attorney Tom Jannsen who represented the homeowners, spoke Tuesday night in opposition to the proposal.
"(Sol America) failed to adequately address the injurious use and enjoyment of the (resident's) property," Jannsen said.
Scott Hilyard can be reached at 686-3244 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @scotthilyard on Twitter.