Solar farm construction could start in early ‘24

by Peter Jakey–Managing Editor

The Presque Isle County Planning Commission (PICPC) approved DTE Energy’s application for a special use permit and site plan on a 7-1 vote and can now move forward with its plan to construct a utility scale solar panel farm across parts of Pulawski and Belknap townships. 

The PICPC conducted a meeting last Thursday at the Belknap Township Hall to consider the application submitted, Aug. 4. There were more than 200 people in attendance and 28 speakers that stepped up to the microphone during the public comment period. 

MEMBERS OF the Presque Isle County Planning Commission discussed the information it had heard from DTE Energy and members of the public, before making its final decision. Even though there were three members absent, six “yes” votes were needed and there ended up being seven. (Photo by Peter Jakey)

The project met or exceeded the provisions of the county’s zoning ordinance, according to officials, but there were two additional conditions added that included 8-foot landscape buffer trees instead of the 4-foot trees proposed and additional funding that will need to be added to the decommission bond provided by DTE that will return the land back to its original state when the solar farm is shut down.

Many area residents urged the PICPC to reject the request, such as property owners Amy and Duane Chojnacki.

“They will be all the way around us,” said Duane Chojnacki.

“There is no kind of tree that’s going to cover this up,” said Amy Chojnacki. “Then, we got a letter saying, $38,000 over 30 years and we are in the middle of it, I think you should add a couple of zeros to that and I would gladly move.” 

PICPC chairman Jim Zakshesky was the lone “no” vote, saying it was for the six property owners who will have panels surrounding them and “it will be a life-altering event.”

dth="898" height="597" srcset=" 576w, 300w, 150w" sizes="(max-width: 898px) 100vw, 898px" /> THE SOLAR panels will be located between County Road 441 (left) and Swan River Road, to the south of Lamb Highway, along with property south of 638 Highway from 441 to Leer Road. There also will be arrays on land in the northeast section of the intersection of Leer and Darga Highway.

(Complete story is in the Nov. 16, 2023 edition of the Presque Isle County Advance. Call 989-734-2105 to subscribe)