WABASH — The Wabash City Council recently approved a resolution regarding solar. The unanimous vote last Tuesday evening offered a recommendation to the Wabash Plan Commission to approve a moratorium on permits for solar farms within city limits.

The Wabash Plan Commission meets this month to vote on its approval.

Solar was one of the hottest topics last year at the county wide level. This year, the topic was broached by concerned resident Suzanne Peebles. She wanted to stave off the potential problems many county residents faced before a similar moratorium was approved for county property last year.

Peebles, and about a dozen area residents, were in attendance at the May 13 Wabash City Council meeting in the chambers of Wabash City Hall. They were concerned with the short and long-term impact of the solar panels on the environment. The group also raised concerns about the lack of city ordinances in place regarding industrial solar farms potentially buying or leasing land within the city’s approximate two-mile jurisdiction outside city limits.

Wabash Mayor Scott Long raised the question “how far can government go when placing restrictions on private property?”. Especially regarding if landowners choose to sell to solar farm companies.

“I believe when a solar farm creates a problem for citizen’s health – emotionally and physically – that’s when it causes a problem,” said Cheryl Ross, a Wabash County resident who is advocate against solar farms close to residential areas. “You cannot have these farms impeding on the basic rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Ross and Peebles were at the forefront of advocating against solar farms last year. Their voice and others were heard. The Wabash County Board of Commissioners approved a moratorium last year on issuing of permits for commercial solar energy systems in an A-1 zoning district.

The commissioners found the Wabash County Zoning Ordinance failed to state specifically what the set-backs (distances from residential areas) are for a commercial solar energy system in an A-1 zoning district. The commission found defects in the ordinance needing correction before any location permits for solar systems in an A-1 zoning district are issued. It was the Wabash County Plan Commission who unanimously voted to offer a favorable recommendation to impose a moratorium on the controversial issue. In series of checks and balances, it was that decision bringing forth the vote by the commissioners.

The residents urged the council during the May 13 meeting to consider taking steps toward a moratorium.

Wabash City Councilman Wade Weaver (District 1) made a motion to request a resolution be prepared directing the Wabash City Plan Commission to undertake a moratorium on industrial solar permits until more research can be done regarding a possible regulatory ordinance. The motion received unanimous backing by the council.

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