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
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
"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
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
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.