The Columbiana County Commissioners have approved a ban on big solar and wind farms in four townships and agreed to hold a public hearing on extending the prohibition to seven more townships.

Commissioners on Wednesday voted to prohibit construction of what they call “economically significant” wind farms, large wind farms and large solar facilities in the unincorporated areas of Fairfield, Franklin, Perry, and West Townships.

The vote came after a public hearing in which residents expressed concerns such as what the energy facilities would do to property values.

Commissioners also agreed to schedule a public hearing to discuss a similar ban in unincorporated areas of Butler, Center, Middletown, Salem, Unity, Washington, and Wayne Townships.

That hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, April 26, at 9:10 a.m. in the commissioner’s office.

If a ban is adopted, the energy farms would only be permitted in seven townships in the county.

Board president Mike Halleck commented that the commissioners are not against solar or wind projects on private land but are not for destroying communities.

Under an Ohio law that went into effect on October 11, 2021, the board of county commissioners may adopt a resolution designating all or part of the unincorporated area of a county as a restricted area, prohibiting the construction of an economically significant wind farm, a large wind farm and a large solar facility.

The prohibitions will not impact plans by Kensington Solar of Ontario, Canada to build a solar farm on more than 2,000 acres of land in Franklin Township.

Kensington's plans to install more than 300,000 solar panels later this year on 2,2064 acres being leased from private landowners was filed with the Ohio Power Siting Board before the new law went into effect.