April 22, 2021

Supervisors expect to consider draft solar ordinance April 14

The Adair County Board of Supervisors are working with County Attorney Melissa S. Larson to have an ordinance drafted by their April 14 meeting regarding industrial solar development in the county.

The supervisors discussed at length in their March 31 meeting what would be appropriate ramifications for allowing such industrial-sized solar development in the county.

After considering ordinances other counties have and discussing what their options are, considering that rural parts of Adair County are not zoned, the supervisors decided to draw up an ordinance restricting solar panels to be 500 feet or more from any dwelling, regardless of project participation; 500 feet from a property lie of a parcel less than 10 acres of a non-participant; 250 feet from the property line of a larger non-participating parcel; 50 feet from a road right-of-way; and a radius of 150 feet from a road right-of-way at intersections from the center of the road. The supervisors would also like panels to have native grasses or other manageable vegetation under them and for there to be a decommissioning plan developed.

The supervisors meetings will be opened to the public beginning with the April 14 meeting. This will be the first time they have been open to non-county officials since before the pandemic began.

Beginning at their March 9 meeting, the supervisors have heard on a regular basis from individuals concerned about the impact large-scale solar development would have on the county. A few of these individuals have reason to believe large developers like MidAmerican Energy are working to secure contracts, especially in the northeastern part of the county, of residents wanting to participate in large-scale solar farms.

Potential problems that have been presented to the supervisors by concerned residents include, but aren’t limited to, aesthetic impacts on quality of life in the country, the impact large footprint solar projects would have on farm ground and farm production in the county, what would happen when the solar panels reach the end of their life, and negative impact to land value. Potential benefits to solar, according to sunpower.com, are its proven track record as a technology that works in many climates, its affordability, its benefit to the entire electricity grid, and the long lifespan of solar panels.

In other county business, the supervisors:

• Considered a general relief application, Grove Township mowing bids, a manure management plan update, a child abuse prevention grant draw down, the audit for the South Central Iowa Regional 911 service and general COVID-19 updates.

• Heard a report from County Engineer Nick Kauffman, which included: signing a right of way contract for a culvert project in Section 20 of Jackson Township, approve the hire of Luke Meisenheimer and wage rate progressions for Brad Cooper and Dustin Ford.

• Heard a report from Conservation Direction Dominic Johnson about the shower and bathroom facility project at Mormon Trail County Park and other conservation activities going on (see separate story).

Caleb Nelson

Caleb Nelson has served as News Editor of the Adair County Free Press and Fontanelle Observer since Oct. 2017. He and his wife Kilee live in Greenfield. In Greenfield and the greater Adair County area, he values the opportunity to tell peoples' stories, enjoys playing guitar, following all levels of sports, and being a part of his local church.