Coun­cil ap­proves re­zon­ing for so­lar farm near Port De­posit

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - By CH­ERYL MAT­TIX

ELKTON

cmat­tix@ce­cil­whig.com

— Ce­cil County Coun­cil unan­i­mously ap­proved a re­zon­ing re­quest from TES Red Toad So­lar on Tues­day to change 7.5 acres from ru­ral res­i­den­tial zon­ing to north­ern agri­cul­ture.

The ap­pli­cant now has to ap­ply for a spe­cial ex­cep­tion to op­er­ate a so­lar ar­ray farm on the re­zoned par­cel, lo­cated at the cor­ner of Red Toad Road and Theodore Road near Port De­posit.

Two weeks ago dur­ing a pub­lic hear­ing on the re­zon­ing re­quest, one neigh­bor sup­ported it while an­other neigh­bor was against it.

The prop­erty is owned by Kather­ine Bres­lin, who is in­ter­ested in leas­ing it to TES Red Toad So­lar, LLC. The com­pany wants to in­stall so­lar pan­els to gen­er­ate elec­tric­ity for sale. Bres­lin told county coun­cil that she needs the lease in­come to sup­ple­ment her re­tire­ment be­cause she is a widow.

Mary Louise Lee, a nearby res­i­dent, ob­jected, saying in­stal­la­tion of so­lar pan­els will de­crease her prop­erty value.

“We al­ready lost $125,000 be­cause po­ten­tial buy­ers of six acres we own didn’t want to live across from so­lar pan­els,” Lee said. “They’re ugly and an eye­sore.”

At­tor­ney Dwight Thomey rep­re­sented Bres­lin and TES Red Toad So­lar at the pub­lic hear­ing. Thomey ar­gued the re­zon­ing should be ap­proved be­cause there was a mis­take made in the 2011 com­pre­hen­sive plan.

“That land should have been NAR be­cause it has al­ways been used for agri­cul­ture pur­poses and it’s sur­rounded by NAR-zoned prop­erty,” Thomey said.

Ce­cil County Plan­ning and Zon­ing staff rec­om­mended the re­zon­ing be de­nied, cit­ing no mis­take, while the plan­ning com­mis­sion rec­om­mended ap­proval, cit­ing a mis­take.

Di­rec­tor of Plan­ning and Zon­ing Eric Sennstrom told county coun­cil mem­bers Tues­day that so­lar farms are con­sid­ered power gen­er­at­ing fa­cil­i­ties and they are cur­rently al­lowed in heavy and light in­dus­trial zones along with north­ern and south­ern agri­cul­tural zones with a spe­cial ex­cep­tion.

Coun­cil Pres­i­dent Robert Hodge and Coun­cil­man Dan Sch­neck­en­burger asked Sennstrom if the cur­rent county zon­ing laws need to be up­dated to han­dle items such as so­lar farms.

“Right now, I don’t think we have a prob­lem,” Sennstrom said. “We seem to be cop­ing fine.”

He com­pared the so­lar is­sue with cell­phone tow­ers in pre­vi­ous years, pointing out that they reach a sat­u­ra­tion level.

“We can’t be proac­tive af­ter the fact,” Hodge said, pointing out that he thinks so­lar farms don’t have a sat­u­ra­tion point be­cause the power can be sold all over the coun­try. “We should ad­dress this early.”

“I hope we’re pre­pared,” he added.

FILE PHOTO

A landowner on Red Toad Road near Port De­posit hopes to lease her prop­erty for a so­lar ar­ray farm.

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