SHERWOOD — A proposed solar field just outside the village limits here is facing opposition, but the company is moving forward and emphasizes the tax benefits this project will bring.
The company which is developing the project (7X.energy, Austin, Texas) held a public hearing via electronic means on June 2 to consider the proposal to build a solar field in Delaware Township and heard from a number of residents, some of whom do not want to be bounded by solar field panels.
Sherwood village officials, as well as some Delaware Township officials, also are opposed to what has been called the “Cepheus Solar Project” by 7X.energy, which will lease farm land from several property owners to construct solar panels that will tie into a Lockwood Road substation.
Sherwood Mayor Jack Stantz said “we don’t want it” because the location would block the village’s attempts on the north and the east to foster growth that would enlarge the town’s boundaries and tax base.
A map showing where solar panels would be installed includes nine different areas north and east of Sherwood. Several are located on or near the village’s north and east corporation limits.
“We’re not opposed to solar energy, just where they want to to put it,” said Stantz. “The two sides we have to grow from is right where they want to put it,” he said.
7X.energy’s senior development director, Cliff Scher, told The Crescent-News Friday that his company met with Sherwood Village Council members in April and May, and have excluded a 50-acre that it had leased from property owners originally.
“That 50-acre area is not included in the proposed solar panel area and will be available for other uses per their request,” Scher explained. “It will not have solar panels on it.
“The village also expressed a concern about visual impacts on U.S. 127 and State Route 18 entering and leaving Sherwood, and the project is committing to increased landscape buffers in those areas,” he added. “While the village prefers that we only locate solar panels on a 40-acre area within the village limits, we are also looking for ways to provide them additional annual income from the project.”
Stantz said that amount “is nothing if we would get businesses in here.”
Defiance County’s economic development director Erika Willitzer said some modifications have been made to the proposed project following a meeting with 7X.energy officials. She has vowed to stand by village officials’ decision if they remain opposed.
“When I started working with 7x.energy at the beginning of 2021, the Defiance Economic Development Office, along with Sherwood Village officials, were not aware of the solar farm location,” she explained. “Once they revealed it, the issue became very apparent — the solar panels would be taking up valuable land which could impact the potential for future growth in Sherwood, especially if the life of the solar contract is 40 years. There were at least four homes slated to get built this year, but they are now on hold, due to the pending solar farm.
“We ended up meeting with 7x.energy following the release of their maps, and they did alter their design, specifically behind the Village Emporium and the new housing addition, which is next to the Emporium,” Willitzer added. “Now the layout allows for some growth. Our office represents the Village of Sherwood, and whether they support or don’t support this project, we will stand by their decision, moving forward. If that decision is against the project, it isn’t a matter of not being supportive of renewable energy or economic development projects, it’s a matter of the right approach when siting a project.”
Delaware Township trustees sided with the opposition when they passed a resolution opposed to a solar field. This is not binding legally on any property owner, according to Defiance County Prosecutor Morris Murray, but states the township’s position.
Despite opposition from more than one quarter, Scher and 7X.energy have vowed to move forward with the project, and he notes the benefits on local tax revenues.
Subsidized at least partially through tax credits, the solar field would provide tax revenue to the county government and the Central Local School District.
“We plan to continue to develop the project as we move forward with the application submission process to build and operate a solar farm project at the proposed location and deliver an estimated $500,000 annually to the local tax base,” he stated.