POCONO TOWNSHIP, MONROE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — We have an update to a story we’ve been following in the Poconos about plans to cover nearly 500 acres of land with solar panels.

That project has been on hiatus due to an appeal filed by local environmentalist groups.

It’s the before and after photos of the grounds of Pocono Manor in Swiftwater; One of them is its current state, but the next shows the nearly 500-acre field of solar panels as part of the Swiftwater Solar Project.

Back in June of 2022, Pocono Township Commissioners voted in favor of conditionally approving the project. To mark the largest proposed solar farm in NEPA.

“They went through an extensive review process in the township with hundreds of review comments about how their project is being evaluated per our ordinances, so they followed some very strict standards,” said Taylor Munoz.

That same month, The Brodhead Watershed Association and Pennfuture filed an appeal against the plans, claiming they didn’t protect the water quality of nearby streams.

“The site of the solar farm does drain down into several of the what are called ‘exceptionally valued streams’ and the exception valued streams are the highest possible water quality rating.” said staff attorney Emma Bast.

The appeal lasted for nearly a year, making a number of changes to the project – like developers only using low-impact construction practices to protect the soil and adding detention basins.

“These detention basins will control stormwater and runoff on the property, that’s a very significant number that’s necessary in order to be able to you know adequately control the stormwater flow and leave some of the concerns about what that would do to the environment up there,” said Munoz.

A Pennfuture staff lawyer tells 28/22 News they were eager to provide the link between a healthy environment and a healthy economy.

“Environmental protections and the things we do are really aimed at working in conjunction with that and preserving that while also recognizing that sometimes change does need to happen, some business development does need to happen,” said Bast.

That smart development now moving forward with the 80MW solar farm.

“They’re now in the process of finalizing their recording of the plans, with Monroe County which is what basically cements the status of the plan,” said Munoz.

Pocono Township officials say since getting the DEP approval. Developers will prepare to begin site work on the property in Swiftwater.