Montgomery County had been facing the looming threat of a costly lawsuit after a dispute with Sugar Creek Wind went unresolved. That threat went away Friday when both parties reached an agreement that ends the litigation – and gives the county $15,000 toward legal fees.
“It is our understanding that Sugar Creek Wind intends to pursue solar projects in Montgomery County, as permitted by the new solar energy amendments to the Zoning Ordinance,” a statement released by the Montgomery County commissioners said. “We welcome such development, and we are aware of other energy companies that have projects planned in Montgomery County. These projects will help landowners generate revenue without the adverse impacts associated with wind energy projects.”
The commissioners approved the agreement Monday morning in their meeting.
“This is a great day for Montgomery County,” Commissioner John Frey told The Paper. “For months, we acted as the overwhelming majority of the people that participated in the comprehensive plan had directed us to do, to stop industrial wind farms in Montgomery County. We listened and delivered on what the citizens wanted.”
It appears that the solar project is the key to the settlement. Terms of the agreement specify that the commissioners must pass Ordinance 2020-27 – an amendment to the zoning ordinance that would allow solar facilities in areas zoned for agriculture and industry – by Saturday, Aug. 1. Once that happens, the suit will be dropped and Sugar Creek Wind LLC will pay the $15,000.
“The Commissioners fought long and hard to defend the interests of citizens who overwhelmingly opposed wind energy in Montgomery County,” the statement from the commissioners said. “With this settlement, the Commissioners can now focus their time, attention and resources to projects and initiatives which will create jobs, improve infrastructure and help make Montgomery County a better place to live and work.”