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Crawford County commissioners vote to bar development of industrial wind farms

Article Republished By Javier Troconis

Crawford County commissioners have voted to restrict industrial wind farm development in all unincorporated areas of the county.

The resolution, passed 2-1 at a regular meeting Thursday, effectively bars construction of Honey Creek Wind, Apex Clean Energy’s planned 300-megawatt industrial wind farm — at least for now.

Commissioners Tim Ley and Larry Schmidt voted in favor of the resolution; Doug Wisenauer voted against it.

Senate Bill 52, which became law in July, significantly changed Ohio’s laws governing siting requirements for industrial solar and wind projects, giving county commissioners the ability to prevent Ohio Power Siting Board certification of certain wind and solar facilities.

It also gives wind farm supporters the ability to file petitions forcing a November referendum vote on the issue, which could overturn the commissioners’ action. Those petitions, which must be filed within 30 days of Thursday’s vote, must be signed by at least 1,182 registered voters — that’s 8% of the 14,767 votes cast for gubernatorial candidates in the most recent governor election, Matt Crall, county prosecutor, explained at an April 23 public hearing on the issue.

Crawford County commissioners, from left, Larry Schmidt, Tim Ley and Doug Weisenauer, prepare to vote on a resolution restricting wind farm development on Thursday morning in the lower level conference room of the Crawford County Administration Building. The commissioners' clerk, Ashley Harrer, is at right.

If no petitions are filed, the commissioners’ resolution would go into effect at the end of 30 days.

Apex has been leasing land in the northern half of the county for Honey Creek Wind for several years. The farm was expected to include approximately 60 turbines. Wind farm developers would make an annual Payment in Lieu of Taxes, or PILOT fee, of $9,000 per megawatt, nameplate capacity, to the county each year, generating $2.7 million.

A vocal opposition group, Crawford Anti-Wind, circulated petitions in an effort to get the commissioners to restrict development.

Wind farm opponents, including many members of Crawford Anti-Wind, stand to applaud after the Crawford County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution prohibiting industrial wind farm development on Wednesday.

This story will be updated.

ggoble@gannett.com

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