The Indiana Municipal Power Agency plans an eighth Richmond solar park, this one along U.S. 40 west of the city limits.

IMPA submitted paperwork requesting relief from zoning standards about fence heights to install a 7-foot-high fence with another foot of barbed wire at the top. The request is similar to the fencing allowed at other city solar parks.

The request is listed on the city Board of Zoning Appeals agenda for its 5:30 p.m. May 10 meeting.

A site plan submitted with the zoning request indicates IMPA would fence in 26.12 acres of 31.37 acres with the address of 3560 National Road W. That land, which is owned by First Bank Richmond, is immediately west of the U-Haul facility on U.S. 40’s north side in the two-mile fringe.

The Indiana Municipal Power Agency has requested a zoning variance for a fence for the agency’s eighth solar park, planned for land (above) along U.S. 40. Photo by Mike Emery

The park would create about 8 megawatts of electricity that would be used by Richmond Power & Light. RP&L is among 60 members of IMPA, which plans to produce 46% of its electricity with no-carbon methods by 2026.

With the 8 megawatts produced by an eighth solar park, IMPA would produce more than 50 megawatts from its eight Richmond solar parks and one in Centerville.

The fencing protects IMPA’s equipment from unauthorized park entry and enhances safety by keeping people away from the energized electrical equipment. The zoning request said the fence will be behind mature or newly installed landscape screening on all sides of the solar park. That would make the fence barely visible from the busy roadway.

Another request before the BZA is by Anchor Transload LLC of Fargo, North Dakota, for relief from the maximum allowable structure height on property owned by General Mills, the parent company of Blue Buffalo, at 4650 W. Industries Road.

The request indicates a grain handling storage and distribution facility will be built to receive, process, store and distribute grains and grain products. The storage bins and related conveyance systems require a maximum height of about 145 feet. The zoning maximum is 50 feet.

A site plan shows the proposed structures east of the Blue Buffalo facility along Round Barn Road and toward the north side of the property near the Norfolk Southern Railroad track.

The Economic Development Corporation of Wayne County has announced “Project Thomas,” but has yet to publicly identify the company involved. The project, which is receiving $900,000 from Richmond’s Redevelopment Commission through the EDC, would invest $39 million to build a rail spur and a transloading, processing and warehousing facility to serve Blue Buffalo and other pet food manufacturers. It is expected to create 30 new jobs with an average hourly wage of $27.

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A version of this article appeared in the May 10 2023 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Mike Emery is a reporter and layout editor for the Western Wayne News.