An official from a Columbus advocacy group questioned pending state legislation Monday that would provide referendum options on wind and solar fields.

Taylor Christian of Ohio Land and Liberty Coalition, Columbus, attended Monday’s Defiance County commissioners’ meeting to discuss House Bill 118, which provides township trustees with options in regard to proposals for the construction of solar fields and windfarms. They include allowing township voters to decide whether a proposal should be allowed to proceed.

The legislation was introduced by Ohio 82nd House District Rep. Craig Riedel of Defiance and 57th District Rep. Dick Stein of Norwalk, and is pending in a House committee.

Christian believes the legislation would lengthen the process for developing solar and wind ventures.

“It is important to have local input,” said Christian. “I just don’t think that this is the way to do it. I think this could get messy.”

He indicated that HB 118 could open the door for referendums on other projects, such as the construction of confined animal feeding operations — sometimes referred to as megafarms.

“It’s going to be difficult to develop anything in Ohio,” said Christian, adding that if such initiatives aren’t “reined in early, it could get out of control.”

However, Defiance County Commissioner Ryan Mack noted that township trustees would have three options under the legislation, including moving a project through immediately. Two others would provide for a referendum on the matter, he indicated.

In reference to a proposed solar field near Mark Center — a type of pending Defiance County project that could be affected by future HB 118 regulations — Mack noted that “everything is going great,” with no opposition surfacing. The solar field is planned near Mark Center by the firm Candela Renewables.

Still, Christian believes the final say should rest with the landowner.

“It should still be up to the landowner,” he said, noting that there are other ways to address the matter, such as zoning requirements.

In other business Monday, commissioners opened bids on 2021 resurfacing and pavement marking.

Bids were received for five specific tasks from the following contractors:

• proposal A: paving work in Sherwood, Ney and Brunersburg — Gerken Paving Inc., Napoleon, $73,704.75.

• proposal B: countywide paving — Gerken Paving Inc., $3,073,846.

• proposal C: chip sealing work — Ward Construction, Leipsic, $159,559.60.

• proposal D: paving in Hicksville and Milford townships — Gerken Paving Inc., $718,873; and Brooks Construction Inc., $766,590.88.

• pavement marking: Oglesby Construction Inc., Norwalk, $176,883.36; and Aero Mark Company LLC, $178,386.

Commissioners will review the bids and award a contract at a later date.

Also Monday, commissioners discussed Ohio House Bill 74, which concerns “force account” limits, or the financial amount of work a county engineer’s offices can complete in-house, rather than bidding it out.

Commissioners stated their support for the legislation, which would provide for an inflation adjustment annually up to 3%.

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