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Plans proposed for Franklin Twp. solar facility

A preliminary site plan of the Kensington Solar Project was presented to community members during the public meeting.

SUMMITVILLE — Community members were introduced to plans for a proposed solar facility that would occupy approximately 1,000 acres of Franklin Township farmland.

Representatives of Liberty Power hosted a public information meeting Wednesday night as the first step of gathering public input on the Kensington Solar Project, a proposed 135-megawatt solar electric generating facility. The general purpose of the project is to “maximize energy production from solar resources in order to deliver clean, renewable electricity to the regional transmission system to serve the needs of electric utilities and their customers” according to a release from Kensington, a subsidiary of Liberty that will be overseeing the project.

The 1,000 acres are expected to be leased from three different property owners for 35 years, the total length of the project. A large portion of the land in the preliminary site plan is owned by Summitcrest Holdings LLC, and a few parcels are owned by Still Waters Farm LLC and Pamela Kosko according to county tax records.

If the project goes through, solar panels will appear throughout Franklin Township from north of Summitville near Fink Road down south past Lewis Road. If the project goes according to the proposed timeline, construction will start and end in 2023. The meeting brought a crowd of concerned locals who wanted to know more about the project. Keith Speirs, Wooster, came to ask questions on behalf of his family who still lives in the area. He said he grew up in Summitville on his family farm, and while he is all for renewable energy, he does not think Franklin Township is the right place for the project. He came to the meeting to ask why the area was selected and who brought the project to the village but said he was not given a straight answer.

Longtime Summitville resident and local business owner Kim Sabatino came out to hear more about the project and said it’s a sad day for the community.

“It’s just very sad. For 35 years I’ve been blessed with a beautiful view. It’s a catch-22–I see what they’re doing, I see both sides of it,” Sabatino said. “So I’m looking to move. I only have five acres and I’m not going to live in the middle of it.”

The meeting was the first step out of a long process in order to gain approval from the Ohio Power Sitting Board. Liberty Power environmental planner Olivia Neter said the project is still early in the pre-application phase and there are multiple ways the public can voice their opinion about the project. Public comments can be submitted to the OPSB members and staff and can be submitted anytime online, through email or by mail. A local public hearing will also be held in the next few months. The OPSB will obtain sworn statements from the public which will be part of the official record. The statements will all be heard and considered before the OPSB makes a decision.

The public can send emails to contactOPSB@puc.state.oh.us, visit www.opsb.ohio.gov, call 866-270-6772 or send a letter to Ohio Power Sitting Board 180 E. Broad Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215.

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