Glenwood City Council Developing Solar Energy Ordinance

Solar energy panels on the roof of the Glenwood business building owned by Joe and Luann Edwards.

While Mills County officials are having conversations about potential wind and solar energy projects proposed by MidAmerican Energy, the city of Glenwood is moving forward with an ordinance pertaining to solar energy.

The Glenwood City Council passed the first reading of a solar ordinance at its regular meeting last Tuesday, Feb 8.

“We, as a city, have gotten several building permits for solar panels,” Glenwood City Administrator Amber Farnan said. “Our current land development ordinance does not address solar panels other than as a conditional use. To do that, we have to have a public hearing and planning and zoning approves those permits.

“By adopting a solar panel ordinance, this will allow us to internally approve those permits without taking it to a public hearing. It will ultimately save the city money because every time we have to do a public hearing it costs us money.”

Farnan said all of the conditional use permits for solar panels that have come before the Mills County Planning and Zoning Commission have been approved.

“It also shows us we just need to have an ordinance that we can refer to and just make it an easier process,” she said.

Farnan noted the interest in solar energy is on the rise in Glenwood, particularly from homeowners.

“We’ve had one or two commercial, but most of them have been residential,” she said.

The ordinance being considered by the council addresses requirements for height, location, setbacks and easements. Roof-mounted solar systems could not be higher than 10 inches above the roof and ground-mounted residential systems could not exceed 15 feet in height “from grade at extended height.”

The ordinance also defines a solar energy system and a solar thermal system and addresses size limitations, maintenance and compliance with federal regulations and the state electric code.

Some other items on last week’s council agenda:

* Following a public hearing, the council passed a resolution for approval of a development agreement with Sell Properties that would authorize Tax Increment Financing (TIF) payments for infrastructure costs associated with development of an apartment complex at the former Glen Haven nursing home building at 302 6th St.

Farnan said the agreement allows project developer Ryan Sell to receive property taxes generated on his investment for infrastructure costs.

“He’s asking for up to $1.04 million in TIF providing he spends that money in infrastructure costs,” she said. “He’d probably start getting payments in 2024 or 2025 after it gets on the tax rolls.”

* The council approved the second reading and waived the third and final reading of a motion that amends the zoning map for the Arbor Hills subdivision being proposed by Jim Hughes Real Estate along the south side of 6th Street. The area is rezoned from Agricultural (Ag) to Urban Family Residential (R-3), which will permit the construction of single family homes, townhomes and duplexes.

The council also scheduled a public hearing for March 8 to designate the Arbor Hills site as an Urban Renewal Area. Farnan set approving the Urban Renewal Area designation is part of the development agreement with Jim Hughes Real Estate and the first step in the TIF process.

“We have to designate it as an Urban Renewal Area before we put a TIF on it,” she said. “Once that’s done, it will be another month or so before we get an idea of how much TIF he’s going to ask for.”


The Opinion-Tribune

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