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Trustees ask to exclude Brushcreek Township from solar development; commissioners refer them to county policy

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Pictured (l-r) are commissioners David Daniels, Brad Roades and Terry Britton. (HCP Photo/Caitlin Forsha)
Caitlin Forsha, The Highland County Press

Almost three years after Governor Mike DeWine signed legislation expanding county commissioners’ role for decisions on wind and solar facilities — and two and a half years after Highland County commissioners established revised policies as a result — one local township is seeking to be excluded from such development.

As previously reported, Ohio Senate Bill 52 was introduced “to amend sections … of the Revised Code to permit a board of county commissioners to prevent power siting board certification of certain wind and solar facilities, to provide for ad hoc members of the power siting board and to establish decommissioning requirements for certain wind and solar facilities.” The legislation was signed into law by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine July 12, 2021 and took effect Oct. 11, 2021.

According to correspondence listed on the Wednesday, June 12 Highland County commission meeting agenda, Brushcreek Township trustees voted unanimously June 3 to pass a resolution “requesting county commissioners to enact the wind and solar electric generation siting authority in Brushcreek Township.”

Commissioners responded by referring the trustees to follow steps outlined in the county's resolution “to establish a large solar facility development process” enacted in November 2021.

The trustees’ resolution says that trustees Nick Greiner, David Chaney and Steve Elliott Jr. are requesting “the county commissioners prohibit the construction of utility-scale wind and/or solar facilities altogether within the township limits of Brushcreek.

“Brushcreek Township is home to Fort Hill State Park and other nature areas,” the resolution says. “Large-scale wind and solar projects are taking up way more land than previously expected. It has been reported the land required is at least five times what was originally thought, and up to 20 times in some reports, to generate the power expected. They take away from farm crop production and are unsightly in appearance. They have been shown in some studies to have adverse climate effects on the areas in which they are built as well.

“For these reasons, the Board of Brushcreek Township Trustees has voted unanimously to pursue the prohibition of utility-scale wind solar facilities within its jurisdiction.”

Although not discussed in open session, all three Highland County commissioners — David Daniels, Brad Roades and Terry Britton — signed a letter Wednesday responding to the township trustees’ request and cited the county’s aforementioned 2021 resolution.

“It has been the position of the Board of Commissioners that to use our authority to limit somebody’s property rights and to prevent them from entering legal contracts to lease their property should require a higher standard than just the Board of Commissioners making an arbitrary decision without those [affected] having input,” commissioners wrote to Brushcreek Township.

In their letters, commissioners asked the trustees to refer to “the steps that a township must take for us to use this authority” under the county policy approved in 2021.

The county’s resolution permits “units of local government,” including townships, to request commissioners to “designate a geographic area within the jurisdiction of the unit of local government as a restricted area.”

However, trustees are required to “hold a public hearing on the resolution” before passing said legislation. The hearing requires the township (or any other “unit of local government”) to notify “all public entities that would receive real property tax, personal property tax or distributions of payment[s] in lieu of tax … within the area proposed as a restricted area.”

The trustees’ resolution is also required to include “a map of the proposed restricted area and list of parcels within the proposed restricted area,” with all of those property owners to be notified prior to a public hearing as well.

According to the county policy established two and a half years ago, townships are also required to provide signed “documentation demonstrating the support for the designation of the restricted area by a majority” of both the entities that would receive tax from projects in the area and by the property owners located in the proposed restricted area.

“Nothing in the foregoing shall be construed as requiring the Board of Commissioners to designate the proposed restricted area as a restricted area,” the commissioners’ policy states. “The Board shall retain jurisdiction to accept, deny or modify the proposed restricted area.”

In their response Wednesday, commissioners told trustees that “if you would like to continue to seek this designation, please inform us of your timetable.”

In other discussion:

• According to Roades, the Highland County Family and Children First Council (FCFC) and Early Childhood Collaborative Committee are hosting a fatherhood celebration Friday, June 21 from 1-3 p.m. at the East Shore Marina at Rocky Fork Lake.

“June is Fatherhood Month, so we're this putting together. It's called ‘Fish-tastic Fathers,’” Roades said. “I’ll be reading a proclamation, and Jeremy [Ratcliff, Highland County Job and Family Services director] will be the emcee.”

The FCFC is currently accepting nominations of “involved, committee and supportive” Highland County fathers to honor during the event. Nominations will be accepted now through June 14 and may be made by emailing

“Do you know someone who lives in Highland County who is a responsible father and should be recognized for being an excellent role model for his family?” an event flyer says. “If so, nominations for recognition are being accepted from now until June 14. Nominees and their families are invited to attend.”

Along with fishing, Roades said that prizes will be given away during the event.

“It sounds like it’s going to be a good time for kids and their dads,” he said.

• Commissioners voted 3-0 to approve a contract agreement with Highland County Community Action Organization about the Community Housing Impact Preservation (CHIP) program.

As HCCAO director Julia Wise said May 1, Highland County is due to apply to the Ohio Department of Development for the CHIP Program in 2024, as they submit applications every two years. The application is a partnership among the county, HCCAO and City of Hillsboro, she said.

Commissioners held two public hearings on the program last month.

“We have done all the aforementioned procedures that's needed before the resolution, and then the grant is due June 20,” HCCAO deputy director Tara Campbell told commissioners Wednesday. “Once we get this, we'll put together everything and send it in.”

• Treasurer Vickie Warnock told commissioners that “tax bills should be going out at the end of this month.

“I’ve approved the real estate, we’re approving mobiles today, so hopefully by the end of this month, they’ll be going out,” she said.

• Commissioners reminded the community that their Wednesday, June 19 meeting will be moved up to Tuesday, June 18 at 9 a.m., due to the Juneteenth federal holiday as well as commissioners being at KAMP Dovetail grilling burgers on June 19.

• Commissioners authorized the 10th application for payment submitted by Doll Layman, Ltd., with this request in the amount of $274,669.79, according to Daniels. Doll Layman is the contractor working on the Rocky Fork Lake Wastewater Treatment Plant improvement project.

• Commissioners approved an amendment to their Buford playground project contract with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, extending the project by six months, Daniels said.

Commissioners also made the following approvals:

• A resolution to support the Ohio Valley Regional Development Commission’s Economic Development District planning partnership investment grant program with the USDOC Economic Development Administration for the annual performance period Jan. 1, 2025, through Dec. 31, 2025.

• A request from Probation for a budget modification within the 2615 CCA 2.0 FY24-25 fund in the amount of $20,000.

• A request from Probation for an advance within the 2615 CCA 2.0 FY24-25 account in the amount of $20,000. Also requested is an additional appropriation within the 2170 account in the amount of $20,000.

• A modification from County Transfer Out to County Advances Out in the amount of $274,669.79. Also requested is an advance to Upgrade RFL (4240) in the amount of $274,669.79. Also requested is an additional appropriation to 4240 in the amount of $274,669.79.

• A transfer from County, Transfers Out to Records Preservation (2280) in the amount of $5,000 for the purchase of a new website. Also requested is an additional appropriation from unappropriated funds in the amount of $5,000.

• A resolution to authorize the commission president to apply for, accept and enter into a water pollution control loan fund (WPCLF) agreement on behalf of Highland County for construction of wastewater facilities and designating a dedicated repayment source for the loan. Daniels said that if approved, this would fund “phase one and phase two” of the Rocky Fork Lake Wastewater Treatment Plant improvement project.

• A budget modification within the 1000 County General Fund in the amount of $20,000.

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