Resident questions proposed solar facility: Bath Township man asks ‘Why here?’

LIMA — Some Bath Township residents recently received a letter with information on a new initiative that will be discussed at an upcoming information meeting.

Matt Monroe, speaking on behalf of United Renewable Energy, LLC, a company out of Cumming, Georgia, sent the message on Tuesday, Oct. 4 to let residents know about the meeting, on Wednesday, Oct. 19, to discuss the potential construction of a solar facility on Stewart Road.

“I am writing to inform you that we are currently exploring the viability of constructing a solar facility on parcel #37080101001000 located on Stewart Road,” reads the letter. “Please see the location map and our preliminary site plan included in this mailer. As part of this process, we will file an application for variance review with Bath Township in the coming weeks.”

But some residents like Tom Burden, who lives on Lutz Road one house away from the property between Loescher Road, Lutz Road and Stewart Road, have misgivings and are working to respond to the proposed plans.

“I was pretty shocked at first,” he said. “I’ve taken it upon myself to actually go out and start getting neighbors’ feelings and their opinions on this. Most of us have moved out here 30 to 40 years ago or better and when we moved down here, it was not to have anything like this. It was always a quiet area. Just to cut to the chase, nobody that I’ve talked to yet has said they are for it. That’s everybody up and down Stewart Road, Lutz Road and Loescher Road.”

Burden’s concerns cover each of the key points outlined in the letter.

“My biggest concern is ‘Why here? Why here amongst a neighborhood of homes?’” he said. “Talking with people, they don’t want to see it. I’m not going to reap any benefit.

“They’re only giving us a 25-foot perimeter from your property line. I know other districts have written their own bylaws as far as solar farms go, and they’re required 100 feet. Part of this property is in a floodplain that’s going to be affected. If you take 714 units of solar panels that are four foot by eight or five foot by eight foot wide that water is going to hit those,” Burden said.

“It’s going to drip down and it’s going to run. It’s not like normal rainfall to that ground. It’s going to run downhill. It’s gonna go straight toward some neighboring property. It already floods down here. We’ve got a bridge that I can’t believe hasn’t suffered because of all the flooding we’ve had out here.”

Burden said that he and his neighbors are already at work posting fliers and preparing for the meeting and said that he does not want this to turn out like similar projects in Shawnee Township and McGuffey.

“It is what it is,” he said. “We’re not happy. Hopefully we don’t get into the same predicament as other townships, like the project out in Shawnee, that has been a boondoggle. That’s cost a lot of people a ton of money. So I guess we hope our zoning commission or trustees side with us and say, ‘Thanks for the offer, but we’ll pass at this time.’ And I think, coming up with another area to do that, that’s your prerogative. Just not on Stewart Road.”

The Birch Solar project in Shawnee Township, which was submitted to the Ohio Power Siting Board before a rule went into effect requiring such projects first be approved by local officials, has yet to be approved by the OPSB.

The informational meeting will begin with a formal presentation at 6 p.m. on Oct. 19 and follow with a question and answer session. According to United, following this, there will be additional formal public meetings. The meeting will take place at Bath Township Social Hall at 2880 Ada Road in Lima.

Reach Jacob Espinosa at [email protected]