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Property owner questions

One of the solar farm applicants whose plans were put on hold in August asked the Ogle County Board Sept. 25 to reconsider its six-month moratorium.

Dan Terhark, who lives in rural Polo and requested a special use permit to put a solar farm on 52.68 acres he owns at 8248 N. Kishwaukee Rd., Stillman Valley, asked the board to consider solar farm requests on an individual basis, rather than applying the moratorium on all of them.

Terhark’s request for a solar farm was one of three in the Stillman Valley area that have already been through the committee process and were put on hold when the moratorium was approved.

Planning & Zoning Committee Chairman Dan Janes, of Stillman Valley, recommended the moratorium Aug. 21 because, he said, the county has no zoning ordinances to govern solar farms and needs time to draw them up.

A large group of rural Stillman Valley residents opposed the solar farms mainly because of how close they are to rural subdivisions.

However, Terhark said the 26 acres where he wants to locate solar panels has only one close residential neighbor, who has solar panels himself and is not opposed to his plan.

“It’s on top of a hill next to a gravel pit,” he said.

The land is not very fertile, he said, and even the farmer who rents the land agrees solar panels is a good use for it.

“We love this land and this is the best use for it,” Terhark said.

His request, he said, was recommended to the county board by the Regional Planning Commission, Zoning Board of Appeals, and the Planning & Zoning Committee, the three committees that consider zoning requests.

The county board makes the final decision.

Later in the meeting, board chairman Kim Gouker, of Byron, said the board may modify the moratorium.

He appointed a nine-member ad hoc committee, made up of five county board members and four others, to draw up regulations for solar farms.

County board members appointed are Janes, John Finfrock, of Mt. Morris, Marcia Heuer, of Oregon, Lee Meyers, of Byron, and Rick Fritz, of Monroe Center.

Non-board members are Stan Asp, of Mt. Morris, Keith Poole, of Polo, Scott Christensen and Ron Steenken, both of Stillman Valley.

The new committee was scheduled to meet on Oct. 4.

Two board members spoke out against the appointees.

Tom Smith, of Rochelle, objected to Janes because he chairs the Planning & Zoning Committee.

Wayne Reising, of Oregon, also voiced concerns because three of the county board members appointed — Janes, Fritz, and Meyers — live within 14 miles of each other.

“I would like to have seen a broader base of county board members,” he said.

Reising said he saw no need for the ad hoc committee when the regulations could have been drawn up by the ZBA.

“This adds another layer of bureaucracy,” he said.

Gouker said once the regulations are drawn up, they will go to the three committees for their recommendations to the county board.

The ad hoc committee appointments were approved by a 15-8 vote.

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