On March 20, 2019, the Eaton County Board of Commissioners voted 12-2 to adopt the Eaton County Planning Commission proposal of conditional-use zoning for Solar Energy Systems, including all eight Democrats and five Republican commissioners.

This bipartisan-embraced amendment affects several articles of the Eaton County Land Development Code including Land Development Districts  and Provisions and Requirements. After months of public comment, the Eaton County Planning Commission recommended language to the Board of Commissioners on January 8 ,2019.

The new ordinance language defines three sizes of solar development, over 20 acres, up to 20 acres, and installations on current residences for private use, that further defines the requirements. The conditional-use zoning is adopted for Industrial and Limited Agricultural districts within the county.

Large and medium requires any solar array development to submit an extensive Site Plan that includes approvals from various agencies such as the Eaton County Road Commission or Michigan Department of Transportation, Michigan Department of Energy, Great Lakes, and Energy, and the Eaton County Drain Commissioner.

Other requirements address the height of solar panel installations, set-backs from roadways, screening & fencing, and access roads. Maintenance of an established development and decommission of a development must also be detailed in the Site Plan before construction can be approved.

Several other provisions protect both neighboring homeowners and the land on which the solar system is built. The full text of adopted language is posted here.