Green Township Residents Voice Opposition to $150M Solar Farm

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The Board of the Mahoning County Commissioners on Monday heard more voices against than in support of a $150 million solar farm proposed for Green Township.

Commissioners held a public meeting to hear those in support of and against the project. Eight speakers – most of whom were residents of Green Township – spoke out against the proposed development.

“It’s our job to do what the people want – 99.8% of the people do not want a solar farm,” said Randy Chismar, fiscal officer for Green Township. “People moved there to see cornfields. People moved out there to see apple orchards.”

Seven others, of which just two live in Green Township, supported the idea.

Wayne Grier, who has farmed land in Green Township for 40 years, said he believes that leasing his land to a solar farm developer would be integral to save his farm and bring more tax revenue to the county.

“This is a $150 million project that could create 150 jobs,” he told the audience. He’s in discussions with Alpin Farms, a solar developer based in Texas. “We’re working with a good company. They don’t want to be bad neighbors.”

Grier said health problems have placed added stress on the family farm, and creating a solar farm would allow him to keep his land and still engage in farming and beekeeping. It would also stave off any future developer to come in and start a housing or commercial project in the future.

He noted that the plan would call for “green barriers,” such as trees and other natural boundaries that would help maintain wildlife in the area.  

“It’s a great thing for the community,” Grier told commissioners. “At least think about solar very hard.”

Grier’s wife, Sarah, said that this project would allow the couple to save the family farm. “This preserves our farm and benefits the entire neighborhood.”

Part of the plan would include $2 million to be invested each year to maintain the solar array and the land. It could also bring more than $42 million in tax revenue to the county.

Chismar expressed sympathy for the Griers, noting that they’re doing what they need to.  However, the vast majority of township residents who have contacted him are opposed to such a development.

Green Township Trustee David Slagle said he is opposed to any commercial development in Green Township that would place farmland at risk.

“We want to see farmland,” he said.

Commissioner Carol Rimedio-Righetti said the board would spend some more time and look at the plan more closely.  

“We’ll look at it further and hold a second meeting in the township,” she said. “We’ve made no decision. We’ve listened to the parties.”

Chismar said that he’s not opposed to renewable energy. However, he doesn’t believe it belongs in Green.

“Is it the wave of the future? Perhaps,” he said. “It’s not the way of Green Township’s future.”

Pictured at top: Randy Chismar, fiscal officer for Green Township.

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