Fiscal Court works through agenda with a new solar ordinance rising to the top

CHAD HOBBS

Messenger Staff 


The Meade County Fiscal Court met last Tuesday for their regular monthly meeting. Several proclamations were read by Judge Executive Leslie Stith. The first of which was one in honor of Telecommunicator Week. The resolution paid homage to the men and women who serve as emergency 911 dispatchers, and the crucial role they play in the lives of Meade Countians, especially in times of great need. The second proclamation was one in which the Judge declared April 16 as Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Day, calling on the county to wear blue on that day and pointing out the roll we all play in helping eradicate child abuse in our community.

The court also heard from Engineer Paul Sanders with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet in regards to 2021’s Rural Secondary Road Program. This year the county will receive $1,207,444 for county road maintenance along with several resurfacing projects on KY 1735 and KY 228.

The court approved the Meade County Extension Office’s budget, approved a request to form an Agriculture District on Fairgrounds Rd. which was made by the Conservation District, and approved a request for Jeana Turner to serve another three year term on the Industrial Authority Board.

County Road Supervisor Jeff Padgett sought the court’s approval to bid out two new dump trucks, a new road broom, a bush hog and a code scanner for his vehicle fleet. All these items had been approved previously in the budget but had been put on hold last year due to uncertainties related to the pandemic. The court gave him approval to move forward and also to extend the county’s road salt contract.

Last month, the court voted to overturn the county’s solar ordinance in pursuit of a more restrictive one. The first reading of the new ordinance took place at Tuesday night’s meeting. The new draft calls for solar farms to have more substantial setbacks not only from property lines (from 50 feet previously to 250 feet in the new one) but also a 250 foot setback from all roads. It also includes new language for decommissioning bonds to be set up to offset the cost of panel removal at the end of the solar contracts with property owners. Though the first reading passed unanimously, this only meant the court was voting to approve the accuracy of the reading. A new ordinance can not become law until a second reading of the ordinance is approved. This will take place at the May Fiscal Court Meeting, but not before a working session on April 27 at 6 p.m. at the courthouse where amendments and changes can be made in regards to the current language of the solar ordinance. Both John O’Hair, Project Development Manager of the NextEra Energy project on the HWY 79 corridor and Harold Millay, a property owner that has a contract with NextEra Energy urged the court to reconsider their current draft as it will cause some landowners to be excluded from the project all together, after 4-5 years of negotiations invested in these contracts. If Magistrate Billy Sipes’ uncompromising rebuttals to both speakers is any indication of the direction the rest of the court plans to go with this ordinance, the county may find itself in a second lawsuit in as many years.

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