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Commissioners approve resolution restricting future wind, solar energy projects in Seneca County

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Photo by American Public Power Association on Unsplash

Tiffin, Ohio — The Seneca County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution Tuesday morning restricting large alternative energy project development for the unincorporated areas of Seneca County.

The commissioners gained the power to approve such a resolution with the 134th Ohio General Assembly’s passage of Senate Bill 52. The bill allows county commissioners to take action to prohibit all solar and wind projects generating 50 megawatts or more in some or all unincorporated areas of the county. It also gives commissioners the ability to prohibit wind projects generating between 5 and 49 megawatts.

With the approval of the resolution, there is now a 30-day window in which those who oppose the decision could petition for a referendum, or vote, to affirm or reject the commissioners’ resolution. The petition must have at least eight percent of the number of registered electors who voted in the county in the most recent gubernatorial election. In Seneca County, this means about 1,532 signatures.

Board President Mike Kerschner said the resolution is meant to give more local control to those most impacted by large alternative energy projects.

Map of Seneca County showing the prohibition zones for solar and wind energy projects in green, and incorporated zones, such as cities and villages, in gray. (Credit: Seneca County Board of Commissioners)

He said after the meeting that if there is no referendum and the resolution stands as approved, companies or landowners interested in establishing a large or economically-significant solar or wind project could come to the commissioners directly to request changes to the resolution and map that was approved.

In other business, the commissioners briefly reviewed the 2022 budget. Votes on the General Fund, non-General Fund and capital budget are expected during the Dec. 2 meeting.

The initial General Fund budget included more than $20 million of requests. County Administrator Stacy Wilson presented an $18.9 million budget for the commissioners to review and work on before next week’s budget vote.

The County Budget Commission certified $19 million in revenue for 2022, and the commissioners have made it their goal to approve a balanced General Fund budget.

The administrator’s proposal does not include salary increases for employees, but Kerschner said when 2021’s financial picture becomes clearer, a decision on that will be made.

He also said several other items are pending more information, such as a decision to retain a second agriculture educator position through the Ohio State University Extension Office.

Also during the meeting, Kerschner read a proclamation recognizing November as Adoption Recognition and Recruitment Month.

Ohio Treasurer Robert Sprague’s office recently unveiled a program called Family Forward that helps families adopting get lower interest loans for qualified adoption expenses.

More information is available here.

In new business, the board approved:

  • A $22,470 supplemental appropriation to the JRIG Grant Fund for contract services. • A $9,000 supplemental appropriation to the Targeted Community Alternatives to Prison Grant Fund for contract services.
  • A resolution establishing the Public Health Workforce Fund.
  • A resolution establishing the Seneca County Health Alliance Fund.
  • Amending purchase orders due to scrivener’s error.
  • Authorizing Seneca County Job and Family Services to Accept Title XX Base and Title XX Transfer allocations from Sandusky County Job and Family Services.

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