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Decision on second Dover solar farm to come Wednesday

Matt Enright
York Dispatch

A decision on a proposed Dover Township solar farm — the township's second in two years— will happen Wednesday night.

The Dover Township Zoning Hearing Board meets at 7 p.m. at the Dover Township Community Building, 3700 Davidsburg Road.

The planned 27-acre solar farm, which would be at 5370 Harmony Grove Road and encompass 10,500 solar panels, requires a special use exception from the board. If that is approved, it would be just the first step in a long process for Mechanicsburg-based applicant Solar Renewable Energy.

"This is just the zoning process — they still have to go through land development," John McLucas, the township's zoning officer, told The York Dispatch in March.

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If approved, the special use exception would be the second in as many years granted by the zoning board to a solar farm. Enel North America, formerly known as Enel Green Power, received a special use exception last year for a solar farm after several months of debate by supporters and detractors alike.

This proposal — which differs from Enel North America's solar farm in that it lacks a substation — has also faced hostility from residents.

"That's a shame that it's allowed in agricultural type of places, and I certainly don't want to look out my windows and see solar farms," speaker Susan Hall said at the February hearing. "I really don't. I'd rather see houses, at least houses are pretty."

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In March, horse farm owner Joe Heffelfinger spoke in favor of the project.

"Assuming that there's no effect to my horses and just my well-being, all we would just ask for is just basically communication," he said.

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The project would be monitored remotely and only see activity approximately three times a year, Steve Crimmel, SRE's sales director, said earlier this year. That includes an annual inspection and mowing of slow and low-growing grass. The project would be surrounded by an 8-foot-tall chain link fence and be screened by native plants.

If the Zoning Hearing Board approves a special use exception, SRE would then need to submit a land development plan to the township's Planning Commission for approval. A land development plan for Enel North America's proposed solar farm has not yet been before the Planning Commission.

Dover resident Joe Heffelfinger showing the distance between his property and the proposed solar farm for the Board at the meeting about the proposed solar farm in Dover on March 15, 2023.

The board will also hear a request for special use exception by Investment Real Estate LLC for a self-storage facility along with a variance request of required parking regarding property located at 30235 Carlisle Road in the commercial zoning district.

The meeting will be held at the Dover Township Community Building due to anticipation of a high turnout. For agendas and minutes, visit www.dovertownship.org.

Reporter Noel Miller contributed to this article.

— Reach Matt Enright via email at menright@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @Matthew_Enright.