YORK COUNTY – Tonight, Jan. 25, the York County Planning and Zoning Commission met for their final time regarding proposed regulations pertaining to solar projects.
Dozens of people attended the public meeting. No public comment was made at this particular meeting.
This comes after months of discussions and public meetings.
There are 26 pages of proposed regulations – pertaining to different sizes/classes of projects.
The categories with the most interest are in regard to large commercial solar projects, as a proposed project near McCool Junction has been the catalyst for these conversations in the first place.
A Class 3 commercial solar project is categorized by one that is on 10-40 acres of land. Such a project would require a special use permit in the ag zoning district, according to the proposed regulations. The mandated setbacks being proposed are: 108 feet from a public road, 75 feet from a non-participating property, ¼ mile from a non-participating dwelling, 1/8 mile from a church or public school, 1/8 mile from a cemetery, 1/8 mile from a state recreation area, 1/8 mile from a platted subdivision. Also proposed are requirements saying the structures have to be neutral in color, use either anti-glare or anti-reflective panels, and there has to be visual screening. There can be no interference with electromagnetic communications in the area of the field and construction sites have to be re-graded and re-vegetated. There also has to be a decommissioning plan in place.
A Class 4 commercial solar project, in the proposed regulations, is described as being at least 40 acres in size. Such a project would require a special use permit in the ag zoning district, as the proposed regulations stand now. The mandated setbacks being proposed are: 108 feet from a public road, 1/8 mile from a non-participating property, ½ mile from a non-participating dwelling, ½ mile from a church, ½ mile from a cemetery and a ½ mile from a platted subdivision. The other proposed regulations for this class are the same as for Class 3 projects.
There are specified requirements for requesting special use permits, which would have to come before the York County Board of Commissioners.
There is also a proposed requirement for project owners to enter into an agreement with the county regarding the use of county roads during construction. The agreement, as proposed, would include traffic routes, time of year use, staging areas and any other physical sites related to the construction. The haul routes would have to maintain travel by emergency service vehicles and the project owner would have to be responsible for immediate repair of damage to public roads and drainage systems stemming from construction and operation.
An emergency operations plan would have to be filed with the county. And the applicant will have to meet with local fire and rescue to review that plan.
The proposed requirements also call for a post-construction noise measurement, at the expense of the project owner.
All 26 pages of proposed regulations can be reviewed at https://www.yorkcounty.ne.gov/uploads/1/4/5/5/145507130/current_proposed_solar_regulations_011124.pdf
The planning commission made small clerical corrections and then unanimously approved their recommendations.
York County Commissioner Chairman Randy Obermier thanked the planning commission for their work and said after a District 2 commissioner is appointed, they will take up the matter, for formal action.