In Fisher, the process worked, said mayor

FISHER — The process worked. That’s what Fisher Mayor Mike Bayler told those assembled for a public hearing on a proposed solar farm that didn’t need to be held after all.

The solar company that had requested a special-use permit for a solar farm within the Fisher village limits formally withdrew its request prior to the board’s meeting.

Allie Loschen of Novel Energy Solutions told the planning and zoning commission earlier in the evening that with new requested setbacks she saw no way to make a project that could deliver the two megawatts of electricity promised.

Bayler thanked the commission for holding the public hearing on the proposal stretching over three different nights. He thanked Village Administrator Jeremy Reale for conducting those meetings and all the residents who turned out to express their opinions.

He thanked Eric Stalter and Novel for putting forth the proposal in the first place.

“The process worked,” said Bayler. “In the end we’ve agreed to disagree.”

Resident Chad Graham, who opposed the solar farm and hired an attorney to represent him and other opponents, asked the board to think about the next time. He said he hoped the board would prohibit the building of such a farm in residential areas.

“We’d like to see some resolution of this so we don’t have to come back the next time,” resident Cody McCabe said.

And former public works head Ron Ragle reminded the board of village drainage tiles that run into the field where the farm was proposed. The solar panels would have been supported by piles driven 8-10 feet into the ground.  Ragle said that would be a problem for the tiles, and Ragle also said that while it is known where some tiles run, the location of many other tiles is not known.

During the commission’s public hearing, Stalter’s wife, Terry, reminded those in attendance what a good community member her husband has been, serving on both the school board and village board and now as the fire chief.

Terry Stalter said after she and her husband researched solar farms and checked out one on the way home from Cincinnati and the one on the University of Illinois campus that they came to believe that green energy like solar is a good idea.

Eric Stalter noted that “build your future here” is Fisher’s motto and that the wrong message could be sent by turning down the solar farm.

“No one ever promised that this ground would remain farm ground or that houses would be built here,” Stalter said.

In September the board amended the village zoning ordinance to include solar farms as a special use within agricultural and industrial districts. But anyone proposing such a farm would first have to request a special-use permit from the zoning commission and then from the village board.

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