The Meade County Fiscal Court approved two agenda items at a special-called meeting on July 22.
The Court voted 5-1 in favor of approving a recommendation for approval of a Level III solar energy system from the Meade County Planning and Zoning Commission. The proposed system by Community Energy would be located on 370 acres of land spread across two sites in southern Meade County. One site consists of 116 acres between Scott Hill Road and Ballman Road in Stith Valley. The other consists of 246 acres on the east side of Big Spring Road.
Magistrate Billy Sipes, who voted against the approval and presides over the district where the system would be located, said he spoke with his constituents, and most of them were against the project. Sipes also said that, upon further research, he discovered the Kentucky Revised Statutes already had minimum setback figures, and if the county hadn’t passed a less restrictive ordinance, the companies would have had to comply with what the state had in place.
“These solar companies pushed us to get an ordinance so they could push it in front of the state to get it approved for our county,” Sipes said. “If you go back to the KRS of what the state had already set for the state of Kentucky, the setbacks were a whole lot more than what we’ve got, and that’s why these solar companies pushed it in front of us to get an ordinance passed so they could fit in our county. I find that they kinda went around our back and come in low to get it in our county.”
Chris Killenberg, Regional Development Director for Community Energy, responded to Sipes’ comment as follows:
“In 2002, the state of Kentucky established a requirement that exhaust stacks of electric generating facilities be set back 1,000 feet from neighboring properties. In 2014, that statute was amended to also require that solar farms be set back 1,000 feet from neighboring properties, unless the local County government passed a different setback – which would take precedence. Through two public processes, the Meade County Fiscal Court passed a solar ordinance in 2020, and amended it in 2021, which establishes a 50-foot setback between solar farms and adjacent property lines and a 250-foot setback between solar farms and any residential structure. Our proposed solar farm complies with the 50-foot setback from property lines, and expands the setback from adjacent residences to 500 feet.”
The Court also voted unanimously to approve a bid from Prodigy Construction for an architectural design of renovation projects at the Meade County Detention Center and 911 Center. The Court opened and announced the bid at a July 20 meeting, but at the time decided they wanted to receive more bids. However, County Attorney Jessica Roberts advised that the County accept the opened bid since its details had been made public, which could give a competitor an unfair advantage in the bidding process.