BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioners have decided to weigh in on whether solar farms should be allowed in rural areas. Norwest Energy plans to build two of these farms along Neff Road, near Big Sky Park.
Commissioner Alan Unger says a hearings officer approved the developments, but some neighbors have appealed. "The board decided to accept the appeal. And, as we look it, this is the first time solar farms have been introduced into Deschutes County. We feel like it's good for us, when there are new applications for new things coming into the county, to bring it up for appeal, to strengthen the decision."
He tells KBND they will hear arguments during a public hearing on October 19. "So, when they go to LUBA, the Land Use Board of Appeals, which it seems like everything does, the county's case is stronger. I'm not saying we won't overturn the hearing officer's decision and I'm not saying we'll affirm it. But, we're going to have a hearing to accept the appeal and listen for more."
Commissioners expect to make a decision by November 7. If neighbors aren't happy, they can appeal to LUBA.
"This is the kind of policy we have, which is if there are new things, let's firm the record up and a solid decision that's supportable by the county up to the board, not just a hearings officer. Because it makes a difference when they go to the Land Use Board of Appeals, and it gives us standing if they were to remand this back to us," Unger says.