Delaware County Council investigates rescinding Meadow Forge solar farm tax abatement

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MUNCIE, Ind. — Opponents for the planned large solar farm north of Gaston packed the regular meeting of the Delaware County Council Tuesday morning and won both sympathy from council members and a promise they would look at rescinding the tax abatement council approved for the project last year.

Amid applause from audience, six members of the council voted to direct their attorney, William Hughes, to find out how the council might go about reversing the 10-year property tax abatement granted the proposed Meadow Forge solar farm in October. Commission member Jane Lasater, who has a nephew involved with the project, abstained from the vote and said she would abstain from future votes regarding Meadow Forge.

From Monday: Moratorium on building solar farms in Delaware County to expire Feb. 22

Ron Quakenbush, the council member who made the motion, told the audience that recension of the abatement wouldn't necessarily stop the project.

A crowd fills the seats at the Delaware County Council meeting the morning of Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022.
A crowd fills the seats at the Delaware County Council meeting the morning of Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022.

The action came after numerous residents of the area took turns addressing the council about what the believe the estimated 900 acres of solar panels would do to their quality of life.

"It looks like to us you've made up your mind and are pushing this forward. You just don't care," said Tim Niccum, a resident of the area.

As they have at other public meetings, people in the audience said they were angry because they had no idea that the project was being finalized until it was nearly done.

More: Gaston-area solar farm opponents gather at Wes-Del to learn more, discuss game plan

Council member Ryan Webb said he had asked proponents of the Meadow Forge tax abatement earlier if there was opposition to the project and was told "no." After listening to the crowd at the council meeting, he said he would not have voted in support of Meadow Forge if he had known there was such opposition.

After the meeting, Jason Kuchmay, an attorney for property owners fighting the solar farm, said he was encouraged by the action of the council to determine if they could rescind the abatement.

For subscribers: Solar vs. grain: Farm feud in Washington Township roils community, ends friendships

The next public meeting regarding the future of the project will be the Delaware-Muncie Metropolitan Plan Commission, which is set to consider changes in the solar farm zoning ordinance. That meeting will be at 6 p.m. Feb. 3 at the Delaware County Justice Center auditorium.

Quakenbush, who said he was not running for re-election to his council seat this year, said he hoped to get the chance to vote on the matter again.

"I come from farming," he said. "I wouldn't want to have (solar panels) next to my farm."

This article will be updated.

David Penticuff is the local government reporter at the Star Press. Contact him at dpenticuff@gannett.com.

This article originally appeared on Muncie Star Press: Indiana solar farm: County council could repeal property tax abatement

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