OTTAWA — Franklin County’s next frontier may lie with renewable energy. As of now, there are no renewable energy companies doing business in the county, but officials believe it is only a matter of time.
County planning director Larry Walrod and the county planning commission developed building codes and zoning guidelines for companies wanting to come into the county. Walrod began reviewing other county policies months ago.
“It has been a lengthy process,” Walrod said. “We have reviewed it pretty thoroughly. I had information from at least 14 counties. We have had input in at least one solar development.”
Walrod presented amendments to the county’s comprehensive plan and zoning regulations for renewable companies to the county commissioners this week. It passed unanimously.
“What we are doing is setting a standard,” Commissioner Ianne Dickinson said. “If a homeowner wants to consider doing something on their land or a company considers coming into our county, this is the criteria that they have to meet.”
Walrod said the county needed to be proactive in setting these guidelines before those renewable energy companies looked at coming into the county.
“What we are trying to do is get in front of this and not have a situation arising where somebody wants to put in something of that nature and we have no provisions for it,” he said. “There are no applications at this time. There may be interest, especially in solar energy facilities. We had not any interest at this time in wind-related facilities.”
Derek Brown, county administrator/counselor, said officials attempted to put together regulations that were good for the companies and landowners.
“We are not pioneers when it comes to renewable energy,” Brown said. “We were able to look at 14 separate counties and understand what worked for them and what did not work for them. We were able to pull the best from them and create a comprehensive plan. The planning commission had numerous hearings and got great feedback from the public and provided that to Larry.”