Commissioners to hire outside counsel

By Kelsey Kimbler -

EATON — During their meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 20, Preble County Commissioners approved a resolution to retain Bricker and Eckler as legal counsel regarding the two solar facilities proposed in Preble County.

The cost is expected to be between $5,000-$10,000, according to Commission President Rodney Creech.

“After our presentation last week with Rotary, I felt — and so did some people in that meeting — that we need outside counsel. This thing is getting deep. We all felt confident that we could keep this in house and handle it, but as the onion unfolds and some of the layers start adding up, a friend reached out to several contacts and someone finally got back to him with [a contact] from Bricker and Eckler,” Creech explained.

“We’re familiar with Bricker and Eckler from our meetings. They are a very large law firm and has an energy division that specializes in solar, wind, whatever it might be.”

He added, they had a phone conversation over the weekend and Creech found it to be “exactly what we need,” so he contacted Prosecuting Attorney Marty Votel for his input.

“At first glance, it did not appear as that complicated of an issue, but these major scale solar energy projects are a new animal in Ohio. These laws that we’re referring to, the oldest of them are 2012. There are projects in half a dozen counties and we’ve reached out to them, but the prosecutors office in those counties had little to do with those applications,” Votel said. “They simply went through the process and no one intervened. My concern is the unknown unknown. You don’t even know what you don’t know. What I need and what I think would be helpful to the board is someone who is aware of each and every issue that can arise in the future, the things that need to be anticipated, and the things that need to be included in an agreement or stipulation.”

Creech added, Bricker and Eckler normally works with the solar facilities, so they might have “inside information” which can help the county.

The board approved a resolution to retain outside counsel through Bricker and Eckler.

By Kelsey Kimbler

Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH

Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH