Commissioners approve zoning for renewable energy


By Ryan Berry

GREENVILLE — The Darke County Board of Commissioners approved an amendment to the zoning regulations for unincorporated areas in certain townships. The new section of the zoning regulation covers Renewable Energy Systems – Requirements for Accessory Solar Energy Systems.

Commissioner Matt Aultman said they had three townships, Brown, Wayne and Wabash, asked the commissioners to institute new zoning regulations that would cover renewable energy. In order to change the zoning, a public meeting must be held and then the recommendation is brought to the commissioners for their approval.

Curtis Yount, planning and zoning director for Darke County, held a public meeting last Wednesday to discuss the regulations. Aultman said, “The old book, when it was done in 2000, we never thought that we would have wind and solar as a major topic. This new section, a lot of the townships around the county have been accepting the verbiage within this section to get the solar and wind projects to the Board of Appeals before installing the project. It doesn’t mean you’re stopping them, but let’s them know of some of the things we’re looking for.”

The Zoning Board made a recommendation to accept the new 10-page section of the zoning regulations. According to Yount, the zoning regulations do not prohibit the personal use of solar energy systems that are rated from 0 to 1 MW. However, there are some regulations that home and business owners must follow, and a zoning permit is required.

Regulations are more stringent on small commercial solar energy production facilities that produce 1-50 MW for both wind energy and solar.

According to Yount, anything producing over 50 MW is governed by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO)

Commissioners Aultman, Marshall Combs and Larry Holmes approved the new regulations as presented.

Commissioners also approved the purchase of new pollbooks for the Darke County Board of Elections. According to Paul Schlechty, director, the current pollbooks are reaching their end of service. They have been in use since 2015. Normally, the poll books are replaced after approximately six years. Schlechty said he was waiting to see if the state was going to provide funding before the county purchased new books. The county was allocated $32,150 and is able to seek reimbursement from Ohio’s Secretary of State for 85 percent of the cost. Electronic Systems & Software (ESS) provided the lowest bid of $93,590. Schlechty pointed out the county currently uses ESS pollbooks, and this will make the transition smoother. In addition to the cost of pollbooks, the county will also pay $77,704 for the six-year service plan.

To contact Daily Advocate Editor Ryan Berry, email [email protected].

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