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Australian company, Lendlease, has been approaching landowners in the rural area between Yellow Springs, Clifton and Cedarville for longterm leases to build a 175-megawatt utility-scale solar array. (Photo by Megan Bachman)

Vesper Energy had planned to build a 175-megawatt solar photovoltaic array on close to 1,300 acres of farmland spanning Miami, Cedarville and Xenia townships. (Photo by Megan Bachman)

Miami Township trustees | Kingwood opposition continues

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The Miami Township Board of Trustees continued to discuss the recent decision by the Ohio Power Siting Board, or OPSB, against Texas-based Vesper Energy’s proposed 175-megawatt, utility-scale Kingwood solar project at the trustees’ most recent meeting Wednesday, Jan. 18.

Kingwood’s application was denied in December 2022 after more than a year of deliberation by the OPSB. In its decision, the OPSB cited public opposition to the proposed Kingwood project as the main reason for the application’s denial. In the wake of the ruling, Vesper Energy filed an application Jan. 17 for a rehearing.

At the township trustees’ Jan. 18 meeting, trustee Don Hollister said Citizens for Greene Acres, or CGA, an ad hoc group of local residents formed in opposition to Kingwood, had on Jan. 13, several days prior to Vesper’s latest action, filed its own rehearing application.

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The Miami Township Board of Trustees, which acted as intervenors in opposition to the project before the OPSB, co-signed the document. About 1,000 acres of the proposed Kingwood project was unincorporated agricultural land within Miami Township.

The application from CGA, which agrees with the December ruling from the OPSB, nevertheless lays out 15 additional categories the document’s signatories believe that the OPSB should also have cited, in addition to public opposition, as reasons for denial, including the project’s “incompatibility with the objectives of local land use planning codes” and “incapacitation of 1,025 acres of good farmland for food production for 35 years.”

Hollister said the CGA filed the application in part to officially document all of the group’s reasons for opposing the Kingwood solar project in anticipation of Vesper Energy bringing the OPSB’s decision before a higher authority: If the OPSB again denies the application at a rehearing, the company is allowed to appeal its case to the Ohio Supreme Court.

Hollister said Cedarville Township’s trustees — who, along with Xenia Township’s, also signed the application for a rehearing — suggested that each of the three townships that would be affected by Kingwood file in its own, separate rehearing application, in addition to the one co-signed with the CGA.

“Do we want to go any further?” Hollister asked. “Cedarville has suggested [the opposition] would be stronger if we did.”

“It’s a heck of a time to drop the ball,” Trustee Marilan Moir said. “It’s been a heroic effort to get this far.”

Following the regular meeting, the trustees held a special meeting on Friday, Jan. 20, and approved a resolution to retain their private legal counsel, Columbus-based Lee A. Slone, to continue advising them on matters related to Kingwood moving forward.

In other Township trustees news:

• Fire Chief Colin Altman reported that Miami Township Fire-Rescue had responded to just over 1,200 calls in 2022 — the fire and EMS department’s second highest volume of calls on record.

• Trustees approved a resolution to reclassify MTFR volunteer Brian Burnett as a part-time employee. As an employee, Burnett will fill a 12-hour overnight shift.

• Trustees approved a resolution for Fiscal Officer Margaret Silliman to seek an advance of funds from the recently passed 3.5-mill MTFR operations levy in order to pay MTFR salaries.

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