The Marion Township Board of Trustees recently adopted Livingston County’s first ordinance allowing large-scale solar projects.
While other townships, including Conway, Iosco, and Cohoctah, have instituted moratoriums on utility-scale solar projects, the Marion Township board at a special meeting held March 22 at Parker Middle School, voted 7-0 to adopt a more than 170 acre solar farm overlay district that runs south of I-96 to Francis Road, along D-19, then east toward Copperfield Villas, and finally west to Peavy Road.
The ordinance established standards for both utility-scale solar energy facilities and private solar energy systems and stated that its intent was to “supplement, rather than supplant, agricultural activities while also protecting the public health, safety, welfare; to mitigate adverse impacts to agricultural lands, natural environmentally-sensitive areas, and developed residential areas; and to preserve scenic views and cultural heritage.“
It also establishes that any such facility, after undergoing a site plan review and receiving a special use permit, must have a landscape buffer at least twenty feet wide along the exterior of the fenced compound, with two rows of staggered evergreen trees that are at least eighteen feet in height. It also mandates that related accessory structures, such as transformers, must be at least 100 feet from road rights-of-way, wetlands, lakes, rivers, and Wellhead Protection Areas, and 500 feet from non-participating residential dwellings, churches or religious institutions, schools, family or group child day-care homes, bed and breakfast establishments, residential facilities, and any other residence or inhabited structure.
Trustee Greg Durbin said the ordinance as written was comprehensive for the foreseeable future and should be approved in order to protect the township’s interests, while the township’s attorney noted it could be revised if necessary after a public hearing with the Planning Commission, a review by the Livingston County Planning Department and final approval by the township board.