The Linn County Board of Supervisors has set meeting dates and times to hear the proposed ordinance changes for utility-scale solar projects in Linn County.
The first reading is scheduled for Sept. 5, 2023. The second reading is scheduled for Sept. 13, 2023. The third and final reading is scheduled for Sept. 20, 2023. All meetings will take place at 10 a.m. at the Jean Oxley Linn County Public Service Center, 935 2nd St. SW in Cedar Rapids. Each meeting will have an opportunity for public comment at the beginning and end of the meeting. The Sept. 5 meeting will also include a public hearing, which allows the public to provide comments during the agenda item. Comments will be time-limited, which is standard for all public comment periods. During these meetings, the Board of Supervisors will consider the updated draft utility-scale ordinance.
In October 2022, the Board of Supervisors placed a moratorium on accepting utility-scale solar applications to allow time for Planning & Development staff to create Renewable Energy Committees to help closely examine and analyze Linn County’s renewable energy standards, taking lessons learned from the two recent utility-scale solar rezoning applications. The Renewable Energy Review Committees are four special-purpose advisory committees formed with the specific goal of exploring parts of Linn County's renewable energy overlay zoning district requirements for utility-scale renewable energy projects. The four committees focused on: Good Neighbor Practices (setbacks and screening), Battery Energy Storage Systems (placement and safety considerations), Balancing Agriculture and Solar (vegetation requirements, agrivoltaic considerations), and Lifecycle Costs (decommissioning plan requirements and considerations, operation and maintenance plan requirements and considerations).
Linn County Planning & Development staff used statements from the Renewable Energy Review Committees, the Board of Supervisors, and the public to draft the proposed ordinance changes.
View a draft of the proposed ordinance changes.
In addition to the proposed ordinance changes, staff also created a utility-scale solar scorecard to assist in the evaluation of utility-scale solar project applications. View a draft of the solar scorecard.
At a special meeting on Aug. 16, 2023, the Linn County Planning & Zoning Commission voted to accept the proposed ordinance changes for utility-scale solar projects in Linn County and recommended the updated ordinance for approval by the Board of Supervisors.
The next step is for the Board of Supervisors to hold three public readings on the proposed ordinance changes. The Board of Supervisors has the final decision on a utility-scale solar ordinance in Linn County.
The current solar moratorium is set to expire Sept. 30, 2023.
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For more information on the utility-scale solar in Linn County, visit LinnCountyIowa.gov/SolarFarms.