UPDATE: Multiple Hurdles for Possible Solar Garden West of Foley
FOLEY -- Geronimo Energy is looking at a plat of land west of Foley for a potential solar garden, but they face multiple hurdles before anything can be done.
Foley City Administrator Robert Barbian says the piece of land being considered is a 12 acre spot on the northwest corner of the intersection of Highway 23 and CSAH 4 less than a mile west of Foley.
"In our review, we've looked at what is the best place for a solar garden," Barbian says. "Or more appropriately, what's the best use of intersections along highways?"
Barbian says the city is considering the value of highway frontages and intersections and whether they should encourage high development in those areas.
"It's a great development site -- something that could utilize a gas station or a retail store -- it'd be a great site where customers are going to want access."
Benton County Development Director Joe Janish says the county has rejected an amendment to an ordinance that prohibits solar energy gardens to be set up in any agricultural properties in the county.
"The county commissioners would like to see some way to preserve the areas that cities might grow into," Janish says. "At this time, staff and the county attorney's office are [aiming] to preserve those areas to allow for a higher use than a solar project in those locations."
Janish says an interim use permit was proposed, which would allow the solar garden a minimum of 25 years on the property. When that time frame expires, whoever has zoning authority would determine whether they could continue on the property, or have to redevelop the area for a different use.
While the county may re-evaluate its ordinance, Janish says no specific discussions on the matter are scheduled at this time.