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Judge deals new setback to large solar proposal near Gettysburg

Bay Journal|Ad Crable|September 21, 2022
PennsylvaniaLegalPhotovoltaic Solar

The Sept. 2 court ruling comes after considerable opposition by local residents and 21 public hearings dating back to 2020. In June 2021, Mount Joy Township supervisors voted down a request for the conditional-use permit needed to build part of the solar array on 391 acres along a major highway.


A Pennsylvania judge has upheld a municipality’s 2021 rejection of a conditional-use permit, the second major setback for what would be the state’s largest solar project on nearly 1,000 acres across 18 farms near Gettysburg.

The Sept. 2 court ruling comes after considerable opposition by local residents and 21 public hearings dating back to 2020. In June 2021, Mount Joy Township supervisors voted down a request for the conditional-use permit needed to build part of the solar array on 391 acres along a major highway.

Adams County Court of Common Pleas Judge Michael George upheld the denial, saying Florida-based NextEra Energy’s application for the $90 million Brookfield Solar Energy Center “lacks a number of critical details specifically required” by the township zoning ordinance.

In his 43-page ruling, George said NextEra failed to provide detailed analysis on such issues as whether stormwater runoff and glare from solar panels would have adverse impacts on surrounding property owners and public welfare.

“The ... more [truncated due to possible copyright]

     

A Pennsylvania judge has upheld a municipality’s 2021 rejection of a conditional-use permit, the second major setback for what would be the state’s largest solar project on nearly 1,000 acres across 18 farms near Gettysburg.

The Sept. 2 court ruling comes after considerable opposition by local residents and 21 public hearings dating back to 2020. In June 2021, Mount Joy Township supervisors voted down a request for the conditional-use permit needed to build part of the solar array on 391 acres along a major highway.

Adams County Court of Common Pleas Judge Michael George upheld the denial, saying Florida-based NextEra Energy’s application for the $90 million Brookfield Solar Energy Center “lacks a number of critical details specifically required” by the township zoning ordinance.

In his 43-page ruling, George said NextEra failed to provide detailed analysis on such issues as whether stormwater runoff and glare from solar panels would have adverse impacts on surrounding property owners and public welfare.

“The nature of Brookfield’s application reminds one of trying to capture a cloud,” George wrote in his ruling. “The application’s constant shifting of critical details makes definitiveness for meaningful evaluation impossible. Unfortunately for Brookfield, the ordinance requires more.”

A spokeswoman for NextEra Energy said the company was “evaluating our options.”

Those options appear to be appealing the ruling to the Commonwealth Court, abandoning the project or downsizing it. Another 528 acres of the project would sit in the township’s agricultural conservation district, where solar energy facilities are allowed. Township supervisors have approved a preliminary development plan for that area.

But Nathan Wolf, an attorney for a citizens group fighting the project, said the property affected by the conditional-use denial includes crucial access to an electrical substation. He said if NextEra pursues the project, the group would appeal the development plan in the ag conservation district.

The solar array, with swiveling panels to follow the sun, would have an output of 75 megawatts, which is enough to power 14,250 homes for a year. 

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Source:https://www.bayjournal.com/ne…

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