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Supervisor explains zoning ordinance confusion between Flushing Twp., solar company

A Chicago-based solar company is looking to bring a solar farm to the Flushing Township community, but a disagreement over some terminology is up for debate.
Published: May. 10, 2022 at 3:32 PM EDT
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FLUSHING TWP., Mich. (WNEM) - A Chicago-based solar company is looking to bring a solar farm to the Flushing Township community, but a disagreement over some terminology is up for debate.

“There’s a, like a disconnect between what they they think our zoning ordinance reads, and what we think our zoning ordinance reads,” Flushing Township Supervisor Fredrick Thorsby said.

Ranger Power has petitioned the Flushing’s Zoning Board of Appeals to clarify the town’s ordinance in regard to the size of the solar farm.

“It all has to do with the 25 percent coverage of piece of land and our intention when we wrote the ordinance was a farmer that owned 100 acres could take 25 percent of that or 25 acres and put solar panels out there,” Thorsby said.

According to Thorsby, representatives from the solar company read the ordinance differently.

“The way they read it is is they could use up the whole 100 acres. They would just spread the panels out so when you measure the area of the solar panel, it still would be less than 25 percent of area of the 100 acres,” Thorsby said.

Thorsby said the ordinance does not prevent solar panels from being installed. It does limit how much farmland they can take up.

“We don’t want big developments in the farming area. We want to maintain the rural character of Flushing Township. We just didn’t want to see entire farms eaten up by solar panels,” Thorsby said.

TV5 has reached out to Ranger Power for an interview about the confusion over the town’s ordinance but have not heard back from them.

“There is no solar plan. There’s nothing ever been introduced. They’re probably a year away from having an on-site plan to submit. So, it’s all, we’re really early stages of just trying to sort everything out and see what’s going to work out the best for everybody,” Thorsby said.

Thorsby said some local residents worry solar farms would raise property taxes and hurt property values.