From Horse Barn to Wellness Center, Part 11: Solar Zoning and Township Disputes


Photos by Adam D. Bearup

Follow the journey to remodel a horse barn into a commercial wellness center on a Midwestern property zoned for agriculture. This 12-part series recounts the considerations, pitfalls and ultimate successes of a green-building project with an ambitious scope to bring a defunct farm building new life as a natural health destination.

Task by task, the former horse barn was looking more and more like a Wellness Center. It was such a great feeling, after all of the leg work, to be closing in on the completion of the project. Enough time passed that the Township had its special meeting to allow ground-mounted solar arrays in its zoning ordinance, and that meant that we could finally get our solar array. We were on track for the grand opening!

I heard a phone ringing, and I quickly recognized the ring tone — it was my phone! I dug my phone out of my work pants’ cargo pocket and looked at the phone number on the screen to see who it was. I recognized the number.

Troubleshooting Solar in the Zoning Ordinance

“This is the zoning administrator; do you have a minute to talk?” Zoning administrators normally do not call builders unless there is an issue with zoning. I spent a considerable amount of time working with him and creating documents for him throughout this project, so maybe he thought that I was the person to call.

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