Janet Houchin, a resident of southern Knox County, speaks to members of the Area Plan Commission Tuesday evening during a meeting held at the Vincennes Water Utilities’ Drinking Water Plant on River Road. Houchin and many others expressed their opposition to plans for a solar field in Harrison Township. Sun-Commercial photo by Jenny McNeece
Janet Houchin, a resident of southern Knox County, speaks to members of the Area Plan Commission Tuesday evening during a meeting held at the Vincennes Water Utilities’ Drinking Water Plant on River Road. Houchin and many others expressed their opposition to plans for a solar field in Harrison Township. Sun-Commercial photo by Jenny McNeece
Following more than two hours of public comment regarding the potential construction of a solar field in Harrison Township, members of the county’s Area Plan Commission have decided to give themselves some time to think it all over.

Dozens filled a large meeting space at Vincennes Water Utilities’ Drinking Water Plant on River Road Tuesday night to speak either in favor of or against plans for a more than 1,200-acre solar field to be constructed in southeastern Knox County.

After hearing all of them out, APC members said they wanted to hit pause, not only to think the proposed plan over themselves but to take the time necessary to get answers to the questions raised by the people who would be most affected.

“These people came seeking answers,” said APC executive director Colt Michaels Wednesday morning. “And there were a lot of things we couldn’t answer last night.

“So we’ll be submitting those questions, in writing, so we can, in turn, provide some written answers for people.”

Michaels said he will compile the questions addressed to the board Tuesday. He will then submit those questions to representatives of the solar development team — many attended virtually Tuesday — and await answers.

County residents who attended Tuesday were invited to leave their phone numbers or emails. Once Michaels has the Q&A sheet ready to go, he will send it out, hopefully in time for residents living near the proposed site to think them over before the APC meets again on the first Tuesday in March.

The APC is considering an application for the proposed development of a $110 million solar farm dubbed RATTS 2 being taken on by Tenaska, a Nebraska-based solar company, and Capital Dynamics, the company that will oversee construction and management.

The solar duo has filed the necessary paperwork with the APC to secure a zoning change; it’s the first in several required steps before the they can be awarded the proper permits and, with them, the green light to begin construction.

Tenaska has leased about 2,800 acres of land in Harrison Township for the project. Actual construction has been proposed for just 1,250 of that, an area perimetered by roads that include Lucky Point, South Petersburg, Burke and Governors, among others.

But it’s not one large area, as many expected, but rather multiple areas — some large, others small, and they’re not contiguous.

Several of those in attendance at a public hearing Tuesday expressed opposition to the project.

Many were worried about their home’s value.

Others expressed concern about wildlife habitats, the potential for dangerous health effects, and why a more remote location — one away from any homes — wasn’t possible.
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