LISBON — Mayor Fred May of Summitville and local farmer in the area Henry Bergfeld reached out to the county commissioner on Wednesday about their concerns about possible solar panels planned for the area around the village.

The project proposed by Liberty Power would place solar panels on 1,132 acres in Franklin Township and is known as the Kensington Solar Project, which will reportedly generate 145 megawatts. However, the proposal for the project states that they have access to 2,264 acres across 37 lots, giving them the design flexibility to optimize the project. The project calls for the installation of 42,800 posts to hold the solar panels.

May provided the commissioners with a map showing the proposed area, noting that the village of Summitville will be surrounded and there will be solar panels less than 200 feet from his home. May said a village council member will have solar panels removed 50 feet from his back porch.

One of the concerns expressed by May is that the cleaning solution used on the solar panels could be toxic. May said the village has no water system, residents rely on wells, and residents are concerned about chemical runoff into their wells.

May grew up in Millport and after his marriage moved to Summitville. May said he likes the scenic, rolling hills of the community. The company’s briefing on what the solar panels will look like “was a big joke,” May said, with the company declining to answer questions. Additionally, no future meetings are planned.

Bergfeld said since the commissioners asked him for his opinion on how many people in the Summitville area opposed the project, he had petitioned. The last time he attended the meeting in December, Bergfeld said he believed in it

80 percent opposed it. At this point, no one has refused to sign his petition and he believes 95 percent oppose the project, with some of the 5 percent being the property owners who will benefit financially from leasing their land for the solar fields.

Those property owners reportedly include Summitcrest Holdings LLC and Still Water Farms LLC. Vernon and Dorothy Brown, the trusts of Elizabeth Johnson and Fredrick Johnson, the revocable trust of Hilda Pearl Briceland and Pamela Kosko. The project is reportedly scheduled to be installed in 2023.

The proposal for the project was submitted to the Ohio Power Sitting Board, and commissioners are unsure whether or not it met a deadline that would allow it to be adopted without giving local commissioners a say in the project. Bergfeld said people continue to write to the OPSB’s call for comments on the project.

While Commissioner Mike Halleck said he was not opposed to solar energy in general, the calls Commissioners are getting are 100 percent against the proposed solar panel project in Franklin Township.

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