Utica expands use of solar panels

Village to allow some ground-mounted panels

Milkweed plants grow near a 30-panel solar ground array at the home of Bill Klein in Afton Township that was part of a solar tour  Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018.

Utica had been allowing residential solar panels but only on rooftops. Not anymore.

On Thursday, the Utica Village Board unanimously voted to expand the ordinance to permit ground-mounted solar panels in residential areas provided the lot is 3 acres or larger. A special use would be required in all cases.

Village Engineer Kevin Heitz estimated that there are “at least 10″ properties that meet the 3-plus-acre criterion.

The Utica Planning Commission had unanimously recommended ground-mounted panels in a meeting before the Village Board meeting.

Finally, there was a significant development in the outdoor retail plaza planned for the north end of Mill Street: The grant agreement was received and will be finalized by the state within two weeks.

Mayor David Stewart said the design phase will be completed by Oct. 1, and they hope to seek bids by Nov. 1. Weather permitting, construction would begin in December.

“We’ll get rolling on it now,” Stewart said.

In other matters, the Village Board:

  • approved an Octoberfest event from noon to 6 p.m. Sept. 30 on Church Street, held by Ginger Road Brewing and Bruce & Ollie’s, and approved a road closure.
  • agreed to increase garbage rates from $19.08 per household per month to $19.65 per household per month, effective Oct. 1.
  • adopted a change now requiring recommendations by the village’s Design Review Committee to get final approval from the Village Board.
  • authorized the seeking of bids to repair Hitt and Griffin streets and portions of Washington Street.