The Washington Parish Council met Monday (March 28, 2022) evening and began with Public Hearings, one of which was on the Washington Parish Utility Scale Solar Project Facility Standards Ordinance. As it turned out, the Public Hearing and the majority of the regularly scheduled Council meeting was devoted to complaints and objections to the ordinance and to the approval process for new projects in the parish. Several parish residents and Washington Parish Planning Commission member Wayne Herring spoke.
The issue of regulating solar panel projects has been a complex and controversial topic at several Council meetings over the past year. The Council's focus has been to be transparent, receive input from all interested parties and prepare a comprehensive ordinance. The Concerned Citizens of Washington Parish have been at the forefront in asking questions and making suggestions. At the meeting on March 14, 2022, the organization's spokesperson expressed support for the resulting ordinance.
The ordinance had been previously introduced and, following a Public Hearing on March 28, 2022, the Council was to vote. They did. Surprisingly, the ordinance was not approved. Voting to approve the ordinance were Rusty Fornea, Clark Harry, and Joe Culpepper. Voting to not approve were Reginald McMasters, Carley King, Shawn Rice, and Kim Wagner.
The need to regulate solar panel projects remains and on March 29, 2022, Public Notices were published that the Washington Parish Planning Commission and the Washington Parish Council will each have a Special Meeting on March 31, 2022. The Commission will meet at 5:00 PM and the only item on the Agenda is “Discussion of the proposed Utility Scale Solar Project Facilities Ordinance.” Immediately following the Commission meeting, the Council will meet and the only item on the Agenda is “Introduction of Ordinance 22-707 – The Washington Parish Utility Scale Solar Project Facility Standards Ordinance.”