SCRC recommends moving forward on Turtle Creek tax abatement request, with stipulations

The Sullivan County Redevelopment Commission voted unanimously to

recommend a solar farm tax abatement request at Turtle Creek proceed,

with a caveat, during its meeting on Monday.

Nathan Hagerman, an attorney with Taft Law representing Duke Energy

Sustainable Solutions, said they had recently presented two projects

for solar development in different areas of the county.

"Hoosier Jack was approved for recommendation by the redevelopment

commission, the other, Turtle Creek, was not at that time," Hagerman

said, noting DESS is looking at a lot of areas for potential

development around the Turtle Creek area.

"There was some misunderstanding that although they are looking at a

lot of different areas, they did isolate one particular area,"

Hagerman told the commission. "They do have a defined area and

everything in the area is optioned out. So, we have redefined the map

in the application to isolate that and put forth what we call a Turtle

Creek Phase 1, to make it really clear that's what we are looking at

for this project."

Hagerman said an additional "hiccup" apparently was their GIS data

base wasn't lining up with the county's GIS data base, "and there were

some mapping issues. I believe we've got those figured out. The

parcels are clearly defined and should be ready to go."

SCRC director Deann Talley confirmed their parcel records line up with

Duke's map.

One issue commission members said is a question about setbacks for residents.

Hagerman said that setback questions were anticipated and the company

would work through with officials and get an agreement before any

development project.

"We've gotten a lot of feedback from the commissioners and the council

that it was what the county wants and we're willing to work and get

that done," Hagerman said. "And that's something we do quite a bit.

That the participating and the non-participating neighbors are

satisfied."

Talley said she has sent this application information to their

attorney, Lou Britton, but had not heard back at that time. She said

he was informed the parcel list had been corrected.

Hagerman mentioned there are "potentially" six phases to this project.

Commission president Brian Hazelrigg said he is concerned with all

these phases, that there will be a lot of acreage devoted to solar

panels.

Commission comments noted the people of New Lebanon are most concerned

with wanting more room around the town.

Talley explained why the commissioners are wanting to do their

memorandums of understanding separately by project, offering the

example Hoosier Jack — to be located in northern Sullivan County and

southern Vigo County — is not surrounding a town like Turtle Creek is

with New Lebanon.

"We want to work with Duke and I'm sure the county commissioners want

to work with Duke too," Hazelrigg said. "I'm just thinking (there

should be more room around New Lebanon)."

Hagerman was asked what setbacks are planned.

"I do not know if they have that design set out," he said. "As I think

you guys have experienced here as folks hear about the project, they

might get a new neighbor sign up. We made sure to commit to this

footprint. This would be part of the financial model for the project

and then they would bid that out. The construction phase would not be

until a year out from now. The financial planning for that and the

bidding for that happens right away. As early as March of this year it

would need to be ready to bid this project out."

Talley said a recent meeting with landowners there was discussion the

setbacks being extended from 250 feet to 300 feet.

She advised the commission they need to have a vote either to support

this moving forward to make this a revitalization area pending

approval from the commissioners and the council so they can move

forward with their abatement request or not to move forward.

Hagerman said if it would be more "palatable" for a motion, "you could

make a motion with a condition saying we could recommend it."

Hazelrigg said his recommendation is that we move forward under the

condition the council and commissioners look at making a bigger area

around New Lebanon.

Hagerman said they would fully cooperate with that.

Talley said plans are to kickoff discussion of the memorandum of

understanding with the commissioners at their meeting as soon as Jan.

18, pending moving forward with the redevelopment commission.

Commission member Bob McCammon made a motion to move forward with

the understanding New Lebanon has to be considered on setbacks. The motion

passed in a 5-0 vote.

The county's outline is that the redevelopment commission,

commissioners and council, in that order, are required to approve any

tax abatement requests.

In other business:

• The commission reorganized at the outset of the meeting, with

Hazelrigg being reelected president, McCammon as vice-president, and

Jen Petty as secretary. A fourth member is Doug Bates. The fifth

member was newly appointed by the county council earlier in the

morning, Rachelle Hollinshead.

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