On September 26, 2022 I submitted a letter to the Goodland Township’s Board. In that letter, I asked the Goodland Township Board to vote to direct the Planning Commission to consider three changes to the Township’s Ordinance regulating Industrial Scale Solar Energy Production. My request would not impact private individuals desirous of installing solar panels on their property.
These three changes I proposed were:
1. To incorporate minimum safety standards for equipment used in Industrial Scale Solar Energy Production. I pointed to standards for electrical equipment created, maintained, and published by Underwriter’s Laboratories (UL) and the International Electrotechincal Commission (IEC). Both of these organizations are internationally recognized organizations that certify a variety of products, including photo-voltaic panels, inverters, and electrical storage devices for safety.
2. To increase the set back and screening standards for Industrial Scale Solar Energy Production Facilities. There have been many credible studies that have shown Industrial Scale Solar Energy Facilities can have an adverse impact upon the property values of neighboring properties. Some of these studies have shown up to 30% decline in the value of properties that adjoin these facilities.
3. To explicitly state in the ordinance that any incomplete application submission would result in an immediate denial of that application for an Industrial Scale Solar Energy Production Facility. You see earlier this year the Township allowed an incomplete application to be submitted and advanced that same application instead of denying it outright. This application omitted certain safety information required by the Township’s Ordinance.
So during the October 11, 2022, Board meeting I asked the Board to take a simple vote to ask the Planning Commission to merely consider these issues. It is important to clarify, my request wasn’t the approval of these three suggestions, it was merely to ask the township’s Planning Commission to consider these things.
But the Board ran away from taking the vote in a most cowardly way. Some Board Members stated they did not have time to review my request. So I asked the Board to take a ten minute recess to read my letter and consider the vote. Mrs. Roy, bluntly said, “No!” to my request. Please note my written request, dated September 26, 2022 was received by the Township and was date stamped September 29, 2022. I guess thirteen days is not enough time to read a two page letter. But the excuse most forcefully voiced was that of Mrs. Roy who claimed the Township’s Attorney will not let them consider anything solar. According to Mrs. Roy, the Township Attorney has advised the Township not to consider addressing anything solar because we are “MIDSTREAM!” I have searched high and low through various legal dictionaries to find and understand the legal doctrine of “midstream.” A legal doctrine so strong it precludes Township from merely considering proposed improvement to an ordinance.
I recognize Industrial Scale Energy Production has torn our small community apart over the last year. But my request was merely to consider some changes to our Ordinances to better protect the safety of the community and property values.
I further recognize elected political officials, concerned with their political futures would rather refrain from going on record on such a controversial topic. So it is far easier to push off a vote or hide behind a made up legal doctrine. Although it might have political benefits, I see such indifference as pure cowardice, nothing more, and nothing less.
So after attending this meeting, I am left to surmise the following:
1. Our elected officials in Goodland Township are mere figureheads and are too cowardly to go on the record with a vote.
2. Reading a two page document in thirteen days or during a ten minute recess is an unreasonable request of duly elected officials.
3. Elected officials will insult our intelligence with imaginary legal doctrine to justify their political cowardice.
These same Township Officials have stated that members of the community did not participate with Township Officials when the Solar Ordinance was originally crafted. On multiple occasions, these same officials have stated they are glad to see an increase in meeting attendance and meeting participation from citizens. But if a tax paying citizen cannot request a simple vote for consideration of changes to the Township’s regulating doctrines, these statements seem to ring hollow and are disingenuous. It is obvious they want us to sit quietly in the audience and keep our mouths shut. I recognize political complacency and political cowardice when I see it. Only one word can characterize the behavior of our Township Board, unacceptable.
— Michael A. Puzzuoli