Residents in Prairie press for answers on solar farm

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By Amanda Ensinger
Staff Writer

Township residents are looking for answers regarding the Prairie-Pleasant Solar Project.

Prairie Township trustee Stephen Kennedy stated in a public meeting he did not oppose the solar project. He said he believes people have a right to do what they want with their land.

“I think this project is coming, so it is better to have a conversation with Invenergy and ask for changes to the project before it is too late,” Kennedy said at a recent board meeting. “I am neutral on this project. I believe in property rights and I don’t think we should tell a property owner what they can do with their land.”

This upset some residents who oppose the development. The project is for a 250-megwatt 1,700-acre solar farm that would stretch across Prairie and Pleasant townships.

Spearheaded by Invenergy, the project would take place on farmland that has been leased for a period of 40 years.

The project could have a major impact on the region that has boasted a quaint country life next to the 14th largest city in the country.

“The westside is tired of everything coming to the westside and getting dumped out here,” said Jeanine Lovejoy, Prairie Township resident.

Lovejoy requested that the trustees have another public meeting to let the residents know what they are going to do now that they are an intervener for the solar project.

“Now that you have heard the residents’ concerns, what are you going to do,” Lovejoy asked. “What are the trustees going to negotiate or what are they asking to do? What are the setbacks? What about the wells? I am requesting a meeting so the trustees can tell residents what they are requesting as an intervener.”

During a public meeting, Prairie Township Attorney Peter Griggs made detailed notes and planned on presenting these to Invenergy. The hope was that Invenergy would make modifications to the project to try to limit the impact on residents who live close to the project.

According to the board, the list created during the meeting will be filed with the Ohio Power Sitting Board, the board that has the final authority on approving or denying the project.

“The law director will put it into the legal document and then there will be an opportunity to review, change, add or omit things,” Kennedy said. “As soon as it gets completed, we will post it on the website.”

This plan of action still upset residents who simply do not want to see the project in the township.

“Don’t be short sighted in this project, by getting a payment for the township, schools, or county. We are losing out on other opportunities to get additional revenue to the township without looking at the options that might be available,” said Rod Pritchard, township resident. “The entire township isn’t going to care until it’s built. Then they will care that it’s built.”

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