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Proposed Marion County solar farm withdraws state application amid fierce community opposition

solar panels

A proposed solar farm in Marion County has withdrawn its application to the state.

Chestnut Solar was supposed to be a 400-acre solar project about four miles southeast of downtown Marion in Pleasant Township.

But Chestnut Solar LLC withdrew its application from the Ohio Power Siting Board last week following heavy backlash from the community and elected officials. The OPSB is a state agency that has the power to approve or deny energy projects, including solar and wind farms.

At a public meeting on April 29, around 30 people gave opinions about Chestnut Solar. Only two spoke in favor of the project.

The judge overseeing that hearing had to repeatedly ask attendees to be respectful of one man who supported the project.

Marion County Commissioners, Pleasant Township Trustees and other officials had already made formal declarations or resolutions of opposition to the project.

Most of the more than 400 comments filed in Chestnut’s case were in opposition. They generally expressed concerns about aesthetics, noise, property values, drainage and loss of farmland, according the OPSB.

The largely one-sided feedback from the community left OPSB staff to believe the project “would not serve public interest.” Public interest is one of the criteria OPSB uses to determine if a project should be approved.

“Staff believes that the public opposition will create negative impacts within the local community,” the April OPSB report reads.

Chestnut Solar LLC can refile a new application for the same or similar project. OPSB, however, notes that Marion County Commissioners voted unanimously to make the unincorporated area of Pleasant Township a restricted area where large solar facilities are not allowed.

Chestnut was the only solar project underway in Marion County, according to OPSB’s active case database.

Allie Vugrincic has been a radio reporter at WOSU 89.7 NPR News since March 2023.