IMPA planning 3 solar parks east side of Anderson

The Indiana Municipal Power Agency opened the Anderson 1 Solar Park in 2015. The 35-acre, 5-megawatt solar farm on Park Road can provide enough power for about 500 homes. IMPA is seeking approval for three new solar parks on the east side of Anderson.

ANDERSON – A variance on the front setback requirement for a planned solar park by the Indiana Municipal Power Agency was approved Tuesday by the Madison County Board of Zoning Appeals.

The variance allows the agency to reduce the front setback from 100 feet to 50 feet on Rangeline Road, east of Anderson.

The BZA previously approved a special use for the project in Madison County in conjunction with two solar parks being constructed in the city.

Brad Newman, director of the Madison County Planning Department, said the property is an island surrounded by roads and the railroad.

Emily Williams of IMPA said that during the design process for the project it was learned the 100-foot setback would impact the development because of the unique shape of the 26-acre property.

Without the variance, she said, the project would be reduced by 30 percent from the planned 3 megawatts to approximately 2.5 megawatts.

Williams said the reduced setback variance would not impact a lot of surrounding property owners and no variances were being sought on the other roads surrounding the property.

IMPA has contracted to purchase the property from the Elda Corp. and V&M Cook Holdings in the 2900 block of 38th Street and the 3400 block of Rangeline Road in the city limits and 26 acres in the county between Rangeline Road and Indiana 67.

The three solar parks will generate 18 megawatts of electricity. The estimated cost of the project is $25 million with construction planned to start in the second quarter of 2020 and be operational in 2021.

Anderson Municipal Light & Power is a founding member of IMPA, which already has two solar parks in the city.

The first was opened on Park Road in 2015 and generates 5 megawatts of electricity; the second was opened in 2017 on Madison Avenue generating 8 megawatts of electricity.

In other business, the BZA voted to revoke a special use granted in 2013 for Mark Littler to operate a coffee roasting business in the 6500 block of County Road 450 East.

Newman said there have been several violations of the special use requirements including smoke and odor from the coffee roaster and the use of commercial vehicles.

Attorney Jeff Graham said Littler violated the conditions of the special use and the BZA could withdraw the special use approval.

Newman said Littler sent an email Monday stating he has moved the business to a new location.

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Senior Reporter covering Anderson and Madison County government, politics and auto racing for The Herald Bulletin. Has been working as a journalist in central Indiana since 1977.