County adopts changes to land use amendment for solar energy

by Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer

Prompted by the possible construction of a 70-acre solar farm in southern Morrison County, the County Board conducted a review of its land use ordinance.

Since solar energy was not even addressed in the ordinance, several terms related to solar energy were added in a definition section.

A new section was added laying out regulations regarding solar energy systems including rooftop, ground-mount and community systems as well as solar farms.

A public hearing was held Jan. 27 at a Morrison County Planning Commission meeting. Changes discussed there were made at a subsequent County Board planning session.

No members of the public attended Tuesday’s public hearing.

The County Board voted unanimously to adopt the proposed ordinance changes.

As a result of the adoption of the solar energy standards, the Board also voted to adopt new solar energy permit fees as well as a change to the current after-the-fact permit fees.

No permit is required for a roof-mounted solar energy system, since setbacks for the structure have already been met.

Permit fees for ground-mount solar panels (for private, individual use) are $50 per project. Fees for solar farm and community solar energy systems are $250 per megawatt of power. These apply when the system is used to sell energy wholesale to the power grid or when supplying many properties with power.

Also included in the vote to add solar energy fees were changes to the late fee schedule.

Property owners who pay a “late permit fee” within 10 days of notification by letter will pay only $50 in additional fees. If the permit fee is not paid within 10 days of notice, the owner is charged an “after-the-fact fee” of three times the permit fee.