MONTAGUE — After a legal maneuver nullified (for the moment) the implementation of the revised White River Township solar ordinance, the township planning commission Tuesday declined to schedule a public hearing on Lakeside Solar’s special use permit application, saying consultation with attorney Clifford Bloom would be necessary before doing so.

The commission declined to schedule a hearing after a public comment urging it to do so from David Caldon, an attorney at Varnum LLP, which is representing Lakeside Solar in pending litigation against the township. Lakeside Solar filed suit against the township in February for failing to schedule a public hearing on its fall 2022 special use permit for a proposed 1,700-acre solar energy facility; the township instead enacted a moratorium on all matters related to solar energy installations and revised its ordinance on the matter, with language specifically relating to “utility-scale solar energy” projects that were not there before. Lakeside Solar claims the revision is unlawful and targets the proposed project.

The revised ordinance, which the township approved last month and was scheduled to go into effect May 12, is not yet in effect because at least one landowner involved in the proposed solar project gave written notice to the township that they will pursue a referendum to go on the ballot in November. According to the township, the petitioner now has until June 3 to collect enough signatures — 132 — from township voters to place the referendum on the ballot. That would delay implementation of the revised ordinance until after the election.

In his public comment, Caldon said his client is “ready and willing” to cooperate with the township and listen to residents’ concerns.

In response, commission chair Sue Lloyd told Caldon that a public hearing would not be “a two-way conversation” for such a dialogue and said Lakeside Solar is welcome to schedule such a thing themselves if desired.

In the second public comment period, Caldon spoke again, saying “it’s an affront” to township landowners not to schedule a hearing.

“Honestly, I think (the commission) owes it to them,” Caldon said.

Township clerk Patti Sargent addressed the elephant in the room by rhetorically asking Caldon if there was still pending litigation to be dealt with, but Caldon replied, “Let’s balance everyone’s interests. That’s all we’re asking for. We just want everyone to be heard.”

A landowner in support of the project also spoke, as did five residents who oppose it, including one who admitted to being out of the loop and in need of a refresher as to why the revised ordinance was not yet in place.

Considering the solar issues the township continues to deal with, the commission voted to table a public hearing regarding a declaration of the old contaminated Chemours property as transitional open space. If enacted, such a move would allow the township to keep the area from being publicly accessible until a government entity had certified that it had been satisfactorily cleaned up. Lloyd dissented on the vote.

Also Tuesday, the commission unanimously denied approval to a zoning request by Acme Pool Construction to build a pool at an Old Channel Trail residence due to concerns about setbacks on the east side of the property. The commission also continued discussions about potentially hiring a zoning enforcement officer, including the possibility of sharing the position with neighboring townships.