New ordinance provides solid footing

Nov. 01, 2013 @ 04:18 AM

It was a challenge the Rutherford County Planning Commission may not have wanted but got nonetheless.

Initially, the Planning Commission wanted a nine-month moratorium on solar farm creation to allow for time to create a proper ordinance addressing the proper construction, use and decommissioning.

However, the Rutherford County Commission allotted just 90 days.

What came of that shortened timeframe was a draft resolution we believe puts solar farm creation on a solid footing.

Members of the Planning Commission told county commissioners the primary concern was public health and safety.

We believe that was the proper course of action.

It would have been easy to draft pages and pages of regulations and language dictating when, where and how solar farms can be constructed but, instead, the Planning Commission took the route of simplicity.

The regulations are not complicated.

It begins by only regulating potential solar farms that cover between 6 and 400 acres. Residential and commercial roof-top solar panel installation is not regulated.

We agree with that prospect simply because there is no reason to attempt to regulate what a person or business puts on their house or place of business.

There is a permitting stage in place requiring ground-based solar farms to fill out the proper forms and adhere to the standards put forth in the regulations. An engineered site plan and compliance with current material regulations are required.

This is not a over-reaching request for the county to ask for. In fact, any developer with experience in placing these kinds of farms should already hold to these standards.

The county will have setback and screening requirements where a minimum of 50 feet will be required for any farm from any and all property boundaries. Any “sound producing equipment” has to be no less than 150’ from any dwelling.

These farms will be required to have fencing surrounding it for the safety of the public as well as evergreen vegetative screening.

Additionally, and more importantly, there are provisions for proper decommissioning of any solar farm if the land is sold or the farm has run its course of use.

The bottom line is these regulations don’t discourage any solar farms from being placed on private land. They simply outline simple regulations for that placement.

We believe the county should take little time in approving these regulations when it meets at 3:30 today.

We also commend the work of the Rutherford County Planning Commission and the county Planning department for their expedient work in preparing these regulations in the time allowed.

By Matthew Clark, for the Editorial Board

 

The Daily Courier Editorial Board consists of community members Jerry Brewer, Kyle Bingham, Tom Padgett and Cliff Strassenburg as well as Editor Matthew Clark.