• WBST 92.1 FMMuncie
  • WBSB 89.5 FMAnderson
  • WBSW 90.9 FMMarion
  • WBSH 91.1 FMHagerstown / New Castle
Indiana Public Radio, a listener-supported service of Ball State University
Listen Live Online. Tap to open audio stream.

Delaware County approves solar zoning ordinance after nearly two years

By Stephanie Wiechmann, IPR News | Published on in Business, Environment, Government, Local News, Politics
Construction of ground-mounted solar in Bavaria, Germany. (Windwärts Energie / Creative Commons)

After nearly two years under a moratorium, Delaware County will now allow rural solar energy projects to go forward that meet a newly passed zoning ordinance.  As IPR’s Stephanie Wiechmann reports, it includes a much lower limit on how many farm acres can be used for solar.

For the first time in recent public meetings, some solar advocates and opponents found themselves agreeing on the same thing – a countywide cap of 5,000 acres for any solar projects that want to locate on farm ground.

For opponent Brittany Mock, it was better than a larger cap of 35,000 acres added to the ordinance in November.

“Obviously, everyone knows that I’m against this whole situation to begin with, but I would like to see the 5,000 at least.  That way, you know, try to meet both sides of the aspect of things.  So, we can have solar, but we can do it in a smaller scale until we kind of figure out what is going to happen with it all.”

For supporters like Wayne Meyer, approving an acreage cap was less upsetting than increased setbacks also changed in November.  That distance between a property line with a home on it and the solar project was increased from 200 feet to 500 feet.

But Delaware-Muncie Metropolitan Plan Commission President Allen Wiseley had to remind Meyer and others several times that a setback change wouldn’t be considered Wednesday night.

As Meyer gave his testimony, “… measured from the outer edge of a facility panels to the –” Wisely interrupted.  “Sir, we are not discussing the setback tonight.”

The plan commission voted unanimously to approve the lower acreage cap suggested by Delaware County commissioners late last month.  Attorney Brandon Murphy says the ordinance will be registered with the county and put into effect.

Read More: Delaware County Council considers taking away solar project tax abatements

Contracts for projects near Gaston and Albany were signed by individual farmers in 2020 and the companies have been waiting out the moratorium.

Stephanie Wiechmann is our Managing Editor and “All Things Considered” Host.  Contact her at slwiechmann@bsu.edu.