YORK – The chairs were full at the York County Commissioners’ meeting this week, as rural McCool Junction/Lushton-area residents voiced concerns over a lack of information regarding a possible solar project coming to their community.
Ken Real and Adam Beck addressed the county board on behalf of more than a dozen residents who attended the meeting.
There has been recent speculation about about a possible solar farm that would be located on 5,000 acres of land in Hays Township, west of McCool Junction.
“These are my neighbors from the Hays Township and they are the best neighbors in the world,” Ken Real said. “We have concerns about this K-Junction Solar Project we are now starting to hear about. We are land owners, farm owners, acreage owners and to say we are concerned is an understatement.”
The York News-Times has received no official information about this project and the developers have not come to the county commissioners with any requests for right-of-way easements or special exceptions.
Real said the group is looking for information regarding the county’s zoning and this type of project. The group, which is calling itself Our Voice Counts, is asking for a six-month moratorium on large solar projects to gather information. He said the group also wanted to be engaged with the county’s planning and zoning commission in the process.
“This project has been brought to our attention slowly over time,” Beck said. “Everyone simply wants to be heard regarding our concerns over what issues might be involved with this over the course of many years. The citizens of Hays Township bought, built and brought in homes, and this has become a thriving area of the county. ... Residents feel like they have been left in the dark in this matter. Our goal today is to come to the table with open minds and to initiate a conversation and to gain information on this project and to educate ourselves on its impact, so we can make good sound decisions."
Commissioner Randy Obermier indicated the developer is expected to present their proposal at the next county board meeting and had been in contact with zoning administrator Joe Selde about county regulations regarding solar farms. Obermier also said he was looking into other counties' regulations where large solar projects have been built.
"Hopefully, we can get information about this project and get to a place where everyone is comfortable,” added Commissioner Daniel Grotz.