Iron Horse Solar project

The Iron Horse Solar project was proposed on farmland near the city of Kittitas in 2016.

A state Court of Appeals ruled this week that a decision by Kittitas County to reject a solar project near Kittitas was improper and based on an erroneous legal determination.

The Court of Appeals for Division III said the county commissioners took a view that was too narrow in concluding the OneEnergy solar project near Kittitas did not align with the state’s Growth Management Act. The ruling sends the project back to the county for further review.

OneEnergy and Iron Horse Solar proposed the solar project in 2016, which was met by opposition by neighbors in the rural area near the city of Kittitas. At the time, the project would have been the biggest solar project in Washington, covering 48 acres and producing 4.5 megawatts of electricity.

A county hearing officer initially recommended approval, but county commissioners turned down the project in a 2-1 vote, saying the project did not meet the Growth Management Act’s definition of rural character.

In its ruling, the Appeals Court said the act’s rural character definition “refers to patterns of development within the rural element of a county’s comprehensive land use plan. It is not limited to a particular parcel or project site,” the decision said.

OneEnergy has since sold its interests in the project to Iron Horse, the court opinion said. A representative with Iron Horse Solar LLC declined comment Friday.

Kittitas County officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Acting Chief Appellate Judge Rebecca Pennell and Judge Laurel Siddoway signed the majority opinion. Judge George Fearing dissented, saying ample facts supported the county commissioners’ decision. He attached the trial court opinion from Kittitas County Superior Court Judge Candace Hooper as his dissent.