Johnson County Planning Commission considers items remanded back to them by the Board of County Commissioners regarding the regulation of solar facilities
The Johnson County Planning Commission met yesterday evening to review eight items remanded back to them by the Board of County Commissioners regarding the regulation and zoning of solar facilities.
On April 4, the BOCC held a special meeting to consider the Planning Commission’s recommendation of proposed changes to the Johnson County Rural Comprehensive Plan and Johnson County Zoning and Subdivision Regulations related to the regulation of Utility-Scale Solar Facilities. In a series of votes during the meeting, the BOCC instructed the Planning Commission to review and reconsider the following directives, which were voted on by the Planning Commission as follows:
Directive 1 passed: Clarification how off-site street maintenance and repair will be required of the applicant and administered by county staff. (County staff edited sections relating to documentation of road conditions and road improvement, maintenance and repair.) The Planning Commission added a general provision that if there is damage to a road, it needs to be repaired in an appropriate timeframe.
Directive 2 passed: Clarification that battery energy storage facilities are an allowed use in association with Medium-Scale Solar Facilities in addition to larger-scale facilities. (This was always the intention but the BOCC requested clarification due to the way the previous draft was written.)
Directive 3 passed: The addition of a performance standard related to battery energy storage facility uses requiring the solar facility applicant to supply specialized fire safety equipment or other protections, if necessary for such use, and the requirement of applicants to supply, and assume the costs of, specialized fire safety equipment or other protections, for the purpose of upholding the public health, safety and welfare.
Directive 4 passed as amended: The Planning Commission voted for a 20 year Conditional Use Permit term with a one-time automatic extension for five years if the project remains compliant. The BOCC requested consideration of a 25 year Conditional Use Permit term, with a one-time automatic extension for five years if the project remains compliant.
Directive 5 passed as amended: The Planning Commission voted for a Maximum Project Area of 1,000 acres, including a waiver option. The Board of County Commissioners recommended a Maximum Project Area of 2,000 acres including a waiver option.
Directive 6 passed as amended: The Planning Commission voted for a 2 mile minimum distance from a city, including a waiver option. The Board of County Commissioners requested consideration of a 1.5 mile minimum distance from a city, including a waiver option.
Directive 7 passed: Adding Conditional Use Permit standards if necessary for impact on surrounding landowners due to the addition of transmission lines to service solar facilities. (County staff added text establishing that as part of the review and consideration of a Utility-Scale Solar Facility CUP application, the off-site impacts of private electrical transmission lines may be reviewed for aesthetic impacts and detrimental impacts to the public health, safety and welfare and to neighboring landowners.)
Directive 8 passed: Additional clarifications, modifications or corrections, as recommended by staff. Modifications of substance by staff included the following:
- Revision of the Project Extent Waiver to be consistent with the Maximum Project Area Waiver.
- Modification that security fencing should be constructed with materials and a design that promotes the surrounding character.
- Modification that a stormwater performance bond may be required rather than shall be required.
- Clarification that the guaranteed funds associated with decommissioning and reclamation can be other forms of surety in addition to escrow.
The Planning Commission will send their amendments to the BOCC for its consideration at a special meeting on June 6, 2022 at 2 p.m. in the Hearing Room at the Johnson County Administration Building. More information on this issue is available at jocogov.org/solar.