Solar array cuts through red tape

HANNAH KUBBINS

Staff Writer

Denison will be moving forward with a solar array that will provide 2 megawatts of power and supply about 15% of our energy needs after a case against the project was dismissed in October of this year.

The solar array will cover about 8 acres of Denison’s Biological Reserve with around 5,000 solar panels. Denison is now ready to move ahead with the project and will negotiate a power-purchase agreement with American Electric Power.

This project was proposed in 2014 but has suffered lashback from the Granville community for months. The homeowners’ main argument was that the solar array would decrease property value and that there was a disregard for zoning legislation.

According to The Columbus Dispatch, after the village council upheld the zoning board’s initial approval for the project early in 2015, the residents filed an appeal with Licking County Common Pleas Court.  Judge Thomas Marcelain sent the matter back to the council to determine whether the project constituted commercial use, which would have required a rezoning request. The council voted in January that the solar array did not constitute commercial use. In July, Marcelain upheld the council’s decision allowing the solar project. Residents filed an appeal of that decision and requested a stay in August, so the project remained on hold. Residents still feel negatively toward the solar array, but as homeowners, they didn’t feel they had the capacity to go up against Denison.

The Granville community also had concerns about its aesthetic value, but a summary on the project reports that the Biological Reserve was chosen with this concern in mind. At its nearest point to Granville, there would be at least 100-150 feet of wooded land to act as a buffer between the array and the neighboring property.

In the beginning phases of the project, Denison’s electricity primarily came from coal-fired power plants and accounted for more than 50 percent of our carbon footprint. Denison then decided to commit to the elimination of the burning of coal by 2015.