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County board tables solar farm decisions

100 people attended Tuesday’s meeting

Several decisions on solar farms were postponed Tuesday evening after some new Ogle County Board members asked for more time to consider the issues.

The board tabled voting on new solar farm regulations, lifting a four-month-old solar farm moratorium, and nine solar farm applications and set a special meeting for Thursday, Jan. 10 to consider all those issues in depth.

Approximately 100 people attended the meeting.

Board members Todd McLester, of Byron, and Lloyd Droege, of Rochelle, who were elected to the board Nov. 6, both said they need more to consider the new solar farms regulations developed by an ad hoc committee before voting on them.

Benjamin Youman, of Davis Junction, who was also elected Nov. 6, asked for the board to hold a meeting to “debate and discuss” the regulations before a decision is made.

“There’s some critical issues were should discuss,” he said.

However, newly-elected board member Susie Corbitt, of Polo, was ready to vote. 

“They were in our packets, and I have gone through them,” she said.

Board member Lyle Hopkins, of Polo, urged the board to get the issue settled.

“These are recommendations for the ZBA [Zoning Board of Appeals] to look at,” he said. “I think we can go ahead and vote on it. I don’t know why we’re stalling and kicking the can down the road.” 

Board member Tom Smith, of Rochelle, said he has reservations about renewable energy because it sometimes involves absentee landlords.

“This is something the government wants us to do and they want a place to put them put up,” he said. He said the land should be protected for future generations.

“I think rooftops are better revenue than solar farms,” Smith said.

The board had already tabled a repeal of the moratorium in November to allow board members more time to consider the ad hoc committee’s recommendations.

After approving three solar farms, the board set the moratorium on Aug. 21 to allow time to draw up regulations to govern them for the zoning code. The ad hoc committee was then appointed for that purpose.

Four of the nine special use permit applications to allow solar farms came from Marion Township, two from Mt. Morris Township, and one each from Scott, Buffalo, and Oregon-Nashua.

Even if the permits are approved, actually getting a solar farm is not guaranteed.

Several solar companies have been actively seeking sites for projects since the Illinois Future Energy Jobs Act was approved almost two years ago.

Which solar projects are successful through IFEJA will be determined by a state lottery with a Jan. 15 deadline.

To be eligible for the lottery, projects must have local government authorization and a connection to the electric power grid.

Ogle County Zoning Administrator Mike Reibel said approximately 30 percent of the submitted projects are expected to be chosen in the blind drawing.

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