The Highland County Board of Commissioners detailed exclusion zones and how local government entities can request them to be enacted at its weekly Wednesday morning meeting.
Commissioner David Daniels said that when Senate Bill 52 became law on Oct. 11, the commissioners tried to figure out what the county’s options were concerning solar development and the solar development process. He said one of the things the law allowed them to do is designate exclusion zones in unincorporated areas of the county.
Daniels said the commissioners tried to create a process that should be followed for granting the exclusion zones. He said commissioners thought the request process needed to be a public process so everyone could understand it and have an opportunity to be heard in that process.
A document of the initial outline of the process for applying for an exclusion zone by a government entity was given at the meeting. It follows:
* A request must be made by the resolution by a unit of local government, which the commissioners defined as a village, city or township, that requested the designation.
* The request should show the area to be designated in detail.
* The specific unit of local government will hold a public hearing concerning the exclusion zone request. A transcription of the public hearing will then be given to the commissioners.
* The unit of local government will notify all entities by mail that would receive property tax or a portion of a PILOT payment inside of the exclusion zone. A majority of those entities must approve of the exclusion zone designation with a letter of support or board resolution.
* The unit of local government will then notify all property owners inside of the area by mail or tell them that a restricted zone is being considered in their area. A majority of property owners of 10 acres or more must approve it with a letter of support.
* If the commissioners believe the restricted is appropriate, they will adopt it through a resolution.
Daniels said the process gives information on how property owners are notified. He also said the process details how and when tax revenue or PILOT revenue comes in, then gets distributed to the various places in the county like school districts and library boards. He said because of this revenue distribution, they require notification and approval from them because it might reduce the amount of revenue they receive.
“Say somebody comes in and we’ve already been told we’re gonna get a request from a municipality to consider an area outside of the municipal corporations,” Daniels said. “They would like to have a one-mile buffer. This is the process that that requesting unit of government would have to follow in order to do it.”
Daniels said that the one-mile exclusion zone buffer was only an example and that it could be something as small as 500 feet down a specific road or as big as an entire township.
He said that because of Senate Bill 52, there are facilities the commissioners have no control over. One of them is that the commissioners are not allowed to give approval over projects under 50 megawatts.
In other news, Jeff Duncan, commission president, said the parking lot at the Hi-TEC Center was finished and restriped, but that there are still a few loose ends that need to be tidied up. He also said the parking lot for the Highland County Administration Building was also finished and restriped, too.
In other news, there were five resolutions approved by the board of commissioners, which are as follows:
* Res No. 21-181 is an authorization for an additional appropriation from unappropriated funds to the Leesburg Industrial Park in the amount of $1,250.
* Res No. 21-182 is an authorization for an additional appropriation from unanticipated revenue to County Court – Computer in the amount of $99,085.
* Res No. 21-183 is an authorization for an additional appropriation from unanticipated revenue to County Airport – Other Expense in the amount of $13,000.
* Res No. 21-184 is an authorization for a request for an additional appropriation from unappropriated funds within the sheriff’s budget in the amount of $3,065.98.
* Res No. 21-185 is an authorization for a request for an additional appropriation from unappropriated funds to Recycling Grant, Q-01, in the amount of $3,500.
Reach Jacob Clary at 937-402-2570.