Berrien County, township officials hear about green energy zoning issues


The Berrien County Board of Commissioners has reached out to township officials across the county to help them plan for green energy projects. At a Thursday meeting, commissioners and township representatives heard from MSU Extension’s Tyler Augst, who has worked on sample zoning rules for wind and solar projects. Augst told them it serves communities well to be prepared for such developments. It’s also appreciated by the developers.

“One of the things that they’re looking for is really just guidance,” Augst said. “As they go out into communities, they don’t know what the rules of the road are, so they often find themselves in protracted developments where it’s back and forth. But if communities can be proactive with their planning like it’s designed to do, they can get out there and sort of plant their flag and say, ‘Listen, this is what’s important to us. This is how we want to regulate this.’ Then developers can have that sort of efficiency of sighting as they look across the state. ”

Agust focused on possible dual uses for properties where solar farms are constructed. He presented several examples of dual uses, like parking areas, and said zoning should cover where the developments are allowed because they can work about anywhere. Township officials across the county are being advised to prepare for the coming boom in solar and wind energy, being mindful of plans for decommissioning when such projects run their course.