Proponents and opponents of photovoltaic solar arrays, or solar farms, filled the Senator Hearing Room Wednesday to express opinions on potential changes to the county's Rural Zone Code. Following yesterday's public hearing, staff will work with the Marion County Planning Commission to gather stakeholders from both sides to come up with proposals to regulate solar farms to protect the Willamette Valley's high-value farmland. The commissioners placed a moratorium on solar farm applications until new standards are proposed.
Marion County began receiving conditional use applications to site photovoltaic solar power facilities in farm zones in 2015. To date, the county has approved 17 sites covering 205 acres. All but one of these sites is composed primarily of high-value farm soils. People contacted the county with concerns about allowing solar farms on properties that are actively being farmed, particularly farms with higher quality soils. In response, the commissioners are considering additional standards.
Several people who testified at the hearing requested a work group to revisit the proposed standards. After the ordinance imposing the moratorium is adopted next Wednesday, the county will not accept new solar array applications. The commissioners directed the work group to complete its work before October 1.
For more information, contact the Marion County Planning Division at (503) 588-5038 or email email@example.com.