Solar farm company wants tax break, more land in Madison County

Local

MADISON COUNTY, Ind. (WISH) — Officials tabled a tax abatement request from the company behind a proposed $110 million solar farm project during Tuesday night’s Madison County Council meeting.

The Chicago-based company, Invenergy, also sought expansion of the 850-acre economic development revitalization area for the 120-megawatt Lone Oak Solar Farm project. 

The company was granted approval to add “about 300 to 400 acres” to their plan, according to Invenergy representative Katya Samoteskul.

The “restrictive setback” requirements approved last month by the county’s Board of Zoning Appeals caused the company to “lose about a third of the area” they had planned to use in northern Madison County, Samoteskul told News 8.

The board required Invenergy to develop at least 500 feet from “non-participating” residential structures and 200 feet from property lines. The company is permitted to negotiate with property owners to decrease the minimum setback distance to 250 feet from homes and 100 feet from properties.

Adding more land would “offset” the setback and change the shape of the primary project area without increasing the size of the solar farm, Samoteskul said.

The majority of residents at Monday night’s meeting said they were opposed to the Lone Oak Solar Farm project.

Residents who spoke with News 8 cited agricultural concerns, potential impact to local property values and growing division among community members caused by disagreements over the proposed solar farm. 

Several residents in attendance shouted, “No! No! No!,” after a company representative outlined their request for property tax breaks.

County council members said they welcomed community feedback but had grown weary of “nasty emails and text messages” from residents opposed to the project.

“This is not final approval for the project,” officials said at Tuesday’s meeting following their motion to approve the amended economic revitalization area.

Denise Spooner, a licensed real estate broker whose family had lived in Madison County for decades, said she felt compelled to continue voicing her concerns at public meetings despite the council’s decision to move forward with the approval process.

She was among a group of 11 real estate professionals who had previously addressed the Board of Zoning Appeals with concerns about the Loan Oak Solar Farm’s potential impact on property values. 

“We are already having problems with our listings,” Spooner told News 8 at Tuesday’s meeting. “Buyers are already deterred [by] this project.”

If approved, the solar farm would sit less than half a mile from her family’s property, she said. 

Katrina Hunter, another resident opposed to the project, said Invenergy’s development plan called for inverter boxes to be placed across the street from her home. 

“There is [going to be] a constant hum,” she told News 8. “We’ve had our home appraised. Even the appraiser said, ‘Yeah, I wouldn’t be able to sell it.'”

Council members said they plan to resume discussion of Invenergy’s tax abatement request at their July 9 meeting.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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