Linn County moves toward stricter regulations for large-scale solar
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Wednesday night, Linn County officials set the stage for changes to large-scale solar projects in the county. The Planning and Zoning Commission voted to recommend changes to the ordinance governing solar projects.
The decision now heads to the Board of Supervisors.
The changes take up more than twenty pages and include things like how far solar panels have to be from homes, details on where “vegetative screening” is required, the level of noise equipment can make, and much, much more.
The changes to the ordinance come after the approval process for Duane Arnold I and II in Palo unfolded last year. The project moved forward, but only after controversy, pushback, and many vocal worries about the project.
This Wednesday night, about twenty people from the community took the mic. A few supported the proposed stricter ordinance.
“This proposed change to our solar ordinances should have been the original one,” said Traci Nelson from Palo.
However, many of those who spoke said the proposed changes would be too much regulation and would effectively put a stop to solar energy in our region.
Taylor Guest with NextEra Energy, the parent company behind the Duane Arnold projects, asked for language that asked for “consideration of established migration patterns” to be struck from the ordinance. “Collecting data to establish migration patterns of local fauna in the area would take several years to accomplish, not something a developer may be able to accomplish themselves.”
“Don’t have so many rules, regulations that the whole ordinance becomes a poison pill,” said Bill Gerhard, who spoke at the meeting. “I wouldn’t let perfection be the enemy of good.”
Toward the end of the meeting, the county’s Director of Planning and Development reminded the Zoning Commission that it’s not their job to decide if code would make projects too easy or too difficult, only to say if it matches the county’s comprehensive plan.
The recommendation to approve the changes now heads to the Board of Supervisors.
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