SHAWNEE TOWNSHIP — The group opposing a massive 375-megawatt solar farm in Shawnee Township in Allen County and two townships in Auglaize County met Monday night at Shawnee Alliance Church to focus their attempts to further oppose the project by Lightsource bp.
Neighbors of the 2,600-acre project don’t want such a facility in their backyard, citing concerns about lower property values and loss of scenery and wildlife.
“Tonight we’re here to become more organized. As you know, this just was thrust upon us coming up on three weeks now,” said Jim Thompson, organizer of the group.
A Facebook group he started to impart information about the solar project is gaining members.
“We have the Facebook group, which has grown to 860 as of tonight and we need to get more organized. We need volunteers. We need to set up some structure to our group and consolidate the core issues that the group wants to fight for,” Thompson said.
Lightsource bp will be conducting two virtual public meetings, one this Friday, the other on Monday.
You can listen to either meeting by calling 877-229-8493, access code 120041#. On the web, go to www.BirchSolarVirtualPublicMeeting.com.
Prior to those meetings, Lightsource bp will be holding a “community outreach meeting” from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Apollo Career Center.
“I am encouraging everybody to show up. I’ll be there. I’ve got questions. I want answers that pertain to my property specifically,” Thompson said.
The event will give people a chance to learn about the Birch Solar project, including how the project can benefit local schools. The company plans to explain the process for permitting the project through the Ohio Power Siting Board. Any approval by the board would take up to a year to complete.
Lightsource bp has 90 days after they hold the first public meeting to submit its official application to the siting board.
“A lot needs to happen but I think for our community, getting them educated as to what this is going to look like, the revenue streams, promises to property owners and the environmental concerns because there’s nearly a dozen endangered or protected species in the area,” Thompson said.
Shawnee Township trustees have passed a resolution objecting to the project, but Allen County Commissioners have not.
“We’re still going to push county commissioners to come out in support or opposition, preferably opposition. We’ve made numerous requests to Mr. (Matt) Huffman (Ohio Senator) and Mr. (Bob) Cupp (Ohio House Speaker) to speak to either our group or the community as a whole. We’ve not heard back from those offices yet,” Thompson said.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.