Handy Township has a new solar energy facilities ordinance.

The board met Monday night and approved the ordinance, which takes effect seven days after publication. The ordinance will apply to both commercial and residential uses. It sets various minimum landscaping buffers and facilities cannot exceed 25 feet in total height. Supervisor Ed Alverson tells WHMI the township wanted to be proactive in regard to a solar ordinance so that anyone who comes to Handy Township knows what the requirements are, noting they used local legal counsel as well as an attorney out of Grand Rapids. Alverson says because of the new requirements of the public utilities commissions for more green energy, they felt that maybe the municipality might attract some sort of commercial facility. He noted they’ve had quite a few people kicking tires but no one who is really ready to make a proposal. Alverson says they feel they have a solid ordinance so if someone comes in, residents will feel that it is well planned, fits in and will provide green energy for future generations.

The board vote to approve the ordinance was 5-1, with Trustee Gordon Munsell opposed. He raised some issues with the buffering and height requirements. Munsell commented that projects in other areas have resulted in tree clearing because the solar panels work fine in the winter but not in the spring and summer when trees fill in and shade them. Both the township planning commission and Livingston County planning department recommended approval. (JM)