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Village Council Jan. 19 meeting— Solar array closer to reality

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At their Jan. 19 meeting, Village Council members moved closer to adding solar power to the Village electric portfolio by unanimously approving a resolution that authorizes Village Manager Patti Bates and the Energy Board to review and recommend a 1-megawatt solar array proposal for an array to be located on the Glass Farm.

The proposed location is a five- to 10-acre rectangle on the western edge of the Glass Farm. While Village staff also considered other locations, the Glass Farm won out as it is land already owned by the Village. And it is located close to the Village transfer station on Dayton-Yellow Springs Road, which lessens the loss of generated energy over distance, according to a memo to Council from Manager Bates.

The land approved for the solar farm is located on the edge of the Glass Farm in order to leave free sufficient space for potential housing development on the farm, which also includes an eight-acre detention pond area.

Last week Energy Board members took a further step toward solar power when they met with four potential solar farm developers, which are Sunhuggers, EnergyWize, American Electric Power and Atlas Power International. Energy Board members will recommend one of the companies for the proposal, and the solar array will also need approval from Planning Board as a conditional use of the land.

The solar company and the Village will then have a power/purchase contract, which means the company will build the installation and maintain it for a certain period, during which the Village will purchase the solar power for electric needs. It’s also possible that citizens could have the option of purchasing solar power, Bates said. While some Council members raised concerns about how a Glass Farm solar array could effect the neighborhood’s current stormwater problems, Energy Board member Rick Walkey stated that the array should have no effect on stormwater drainage.

“A solar array has little impact on the soil and the current permeability of the soil should be maintained,” Walkey said. “There’s just poles in the ground.”

The solar project has been a long time coming, as Energy Board members proposed a community solar farm about a year ago. Following that, Manager Bates and Electric Superintendent Johnnie Burns met with energy consultant John Courtney to consider ways to implement a Village solar project, its impact on the Village energy portfolio and potential challenges for the Village. Following that, the three moved ahead to contact various solar companies in regard to establishing an array on the Glass Farm. Bates and Burns met with five solar companies, and then narrowed the selection to four.

The vote on the solar farm authorization was 4–0, as Judith Hempfling was absent from the meeting.

In other Council Jan. 19 business:
• Council members moved closer to launching a Village Facebook page with a lively discussion on whether or not to include citizens’ comments on the site.

The Community Access Panel, or CAP, and the Village fellows from Indonesia who worked on a Village social media policy last summer recommended to Council that initially comments not be included on a Facebook page, according to Brian Housh. The fellows’ research indicated that the majority of municipalities that have a Facebook page turn off options that allow citizen comments due to concerns about managing the comments. However, he said, the City of Kettering allows citizen comments and has not had problems.

The Village Facebook page would also include a list of rules for comments, which would prohibit profanity, among other restrictions, stating that comments could be removed if rules aren’t respected.

At the meeting Council members indicated openness to citizens’ comments on a Facebook page.
“I would rather that people feel welcome, and that they can participate,” Council President Karen Wintrow said, also stating that allowing comments would make the site “more human and more interesting.”

Bates suggested that the Village could also remove the comments option if it proves too troublesome or too time-consuming for staff.

Council and staff members agreed to take another look at other municipalities’ approaches to citizen comments on their Facebook sites, and Housh will bring to Council’s next meeting a prototype for the Facebook page.

• Council members postponed a second discussion of Village goals until Council’s Feb. 1 meeting, when Hempfling will be present. Housh noted that while Council had requested citizen feedback on the goals, little feedback from citizens has been received. The list of 2015 goals, which will potentially be continued into this year, is in the Jan. 4 Council packet.
Council’s next regular meeting will take place Monday, Feb. 1, at 7 p.m.


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