Home News York County Commissioners to Tackle Solar Regulations in March

York County Commissioners to Tackle Solar Regulations in March


York County Press Release

YORK – “Now that the county’s planning and zoning commission has sent us their recommendations for solar field regulations, we need to talk about the upcoming process.”

​That statement was made by York County Commissioner Chairman Randy Obermier before the other commissioners and a packed room of people interested in seeing how the next steps will play out.

For months, the county’s planning and zoning commission has been working on proposed zoning regulations pertaining to solar fields – which had never been included in the county’s zoning regulations because solar fields hadn’t existed here before.

Then came the proposed solar field project near McCool – with people standing for and against its existence.

“And now we see another section of the county possibly coming into the spotlight for yet another proposed solar project,” Obermier said, referring to the possibility one might be in the works near Benedict.

“I want to thank the planning and zoning members for all their work in creating proposals pertaining to solar fields in all areas of the county,” Obermier said further. “The proposed regulations are now on the county website and can be reviewed there. I think we, as the commissioners, need to take time to read through them again and again, considering every aspect. We can do this during February and then set the official public hearing for sometime in March.

“I think if we want to just make minor tweaks, this board can do that,” Obermier continued. “But if it appears major, major changes might be made, we would need to send this all back to the planning and zoning commission. We just need to look at these very closely, and we will discuss further.”

“I agree,” said Commissioner Daniel Grotz. “We have been following this process very closely as it has moved along, and now we just need to thoroughly digest it all. I would agree that unless we see large changes need to be made, it wouldn’t need to be sent back to the planning and zoning commission. In my first readings, I’d just like to see some small wording changes, some small changes in terminology.”

“A lot of work went into this,” said Commissioner Stan Boehr. “What I’ve read so far looks good to me. I can’t see making any major changes at this point.”

“We won’t set the meeting date until our next regular meeting,” said Obermier. “I assume we will need to have the hearing in a larger venue, and we will make sure everyone can hear all the conversation and comments. And yes, we will be taking public comment during that public hearing.”

“I’ve probably read more about this in the past week than I’ve read in the past year,” said Commissioner LeRoy Ott regarding his diligent review of the proposed regulations. “I’ve also had farmers say to me we just need to do something; they can’t stand in limbo forever.”

Prior to the commissioners having this particular conversation, meeting attendees addressed the board during the public comment period.

Grant Jackson, who lives on an acreage in the McCool area, said, “I ask you to consider the acreage owners. I think the proposed setbacks are fair. I guarantee if there had been a 2,500-acre solar field near our acreage a few years ago, we wouldn’t have moved back here.”

He also told the county board to consider the size of the proposed solar field near McCool would take up more acres than the acres taken up by the City of York.

“Please also consider the effects on local wildlife and erosion issues. There are a lot of things to consider,” Jackson said. “Please take all that into consideration. I think the proposed regulations are good.

“I urge you to listen to your zoning board,” said Chris Ziegler. “I would set a bad precedent for you to come in and make large changes.”

“It seems to me that throughout this process, you’ve only heard one side of the story,” said Willard Peterson. “There is another side. Please consider everything.”

JoAnne Jackson of rural McCool said she felt the planning and zoning commission “did an excellent job on the regulations.” She also cited portions of a study regarding solar field zoning regulations prepared by the Center for Rural Affairs. “I ask you to consider residents who might be affected by setbacks.”

And Kendra Johnson, a rural York County resident in attendance, asked the commissioners to “consider an acre limit per project and an acre limit (for solar fields) for the entire county.”

The proposed regulations can be reviewed on the homepage of the county’s website – yorkcountyne.gov.