County adopted new solar ordinance in 2024

Apr. 19—ANDERSON — For several years, there has been a moratorium in place in Madison County prohibiting large scale solar energy projects.

The moratorium was first put in place in 2021 until a new solar energy ordinance was adopted .

The Madison County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously earlier this year to approve the new solar ordinance.

Once the new ordinance was passed, the moratorium was allowed to expire.

Local real estate agent Denise Spooner has been an advocate for adoption of the new ordinance that regulates large scale solar projects.

"I'm very pleased with the ordinance the county passed," she said.

Spooner said she did a lot of research into many areas involving solar energy facilities including property value guarantees and protection of farm land.

The Indiana Municipal Power Agency is operating several small-scale solar energy facilities inside the Anderson city limits and in Pendleton.

The Madison County Plan Commission approved the new proposed solar ordinance with a favorable recommendation to the county commissioners.

John Richwine, president of the Madison County Board of County Commissioners, said an amendment could be proposed next year to change a three-mile buffer zone from any waterways in the county.

The buffer was then amended to one mile.

Since Madison County approved the proposed Lone Oak solar facility in 2019, county officials have been hoping to adopt a new solar energy ordinance.

The Lone Oak solar facility was approved in 2019 and the county has had a moratorium in place preventing large scale facilities in the county until a new solar ordinance is adopted.

The new ordinance prepared by Larry Strange, director of the Madison County Planning Department, limits where a large scale commercial operation can locate with a special use and requires setbacks from adjacent non-participating property owners ranging from 400 to 450 feet.

Strange said a medium sized commercial facility can range from six to 75 acres and a large-scale facility can range from 76 to 400 acres.

The ordinance states a solar energy facility can't exceed 400 acres and there is a three-mile neutral zone requirement between solar developments.

Strange said a development for a large facility will require a rezoning to a designation as a high impact zoning district, of which none are currently located in Madison County.

It includes a residential property value guarantee clause for single-family residences within three miles covering the start of construction.

The ordinance also includes a provision that no more than 10% of the prime farm ground in the project area can be used for solar energy facilities.

Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 765-640-4863.