After two tie votes by the Mt. Joy township supervisors, the application for from NextEra Energy for a large solar panel array in the township was denied. Under township regulation a decision to approve requires a majority vote.
The project, which would have added over 400 acres of solar panels on 19 properties in the township, came after more than a year of evidentiary hearings.
At the end of tonight’s short township meeting, a motion to approve the project with conditions was first made. This motion was approved by Chairman John Gormont and board member Jeffrey Patterson, while board members Bernie Mazer and Terry Scholle voted against it.
A motion to deny the project was then made. This motion was approved by Mazer and Scholle while Gormont and Jeffrey Patterson voted against.
The fifth board member, Vice Chairman David Updyke, who had been recused since the hearings began due to possible conflict of interest, was reported as being absent “due to other obligations.”
After the votes, Township Solicitor Susan Smith said the application was denied. “Upon the making of the motion to approve with conditions and the tie vote on that motion by operation of law the application is denied,” she said.
In an email, board member Bernie Mazer said letters from both sides of the board’s decision will come out presently but that the board had split (and hence denied the application on) criterion from the zoning ordinance.
Mazer said there was disagreement on at least three sections of the code:
110-1201(B)(1) The proposed use shall be consistent with the purpose and intent of the chapter as expressed in the district descriptions and such use is specifically authorized as a use by conditional use within the district wherein the applicant seeks approval.
Section 1201.B.(2) of the Zoning Ordinance provides that the proposed use shall not detract from the use and enjoyment of adjacent or nearby lots.
Section 1201.B.(3) of the Zoning Ordinance provides that the proposed use will not substantially change the character of the subject lot’s neighborhood nor adversely affect the character of the general neighborhood, the conservation of property values, the health and safety of residents or workers on adjacent lots and in the neighborhood, nor the reasonable use of neighboring lots. The use of adjacent lots shall be adequately safeguarded.