SYCAMORE – After more than 40 proposed solar energy projects have come through DeKalb County so far, County Board members sent two back to the Planning and Zoning committee.
Board members voted, 23-0, to send the two proposed 2-megawatt community solar gardens from U.S. Solar on Bethany Road in Cortland Township back for committee consideration during the County Board meeting Wednesday night at the DeKalb County Legislative Center Gathertorium. Board member Linda Slabon was absent.
Board Chairman Mark Pietrowski Jr. said he and other board members have seen many residents start off not being in favor of the solar energy project in question. Usually, he said, those residents end up being fine with the project after they actually talk to a project representative and work out a compromise.
“I believe we didn’t quite see it here,” Pietrowski said.
Terry Martinson of Sycamore said he lives on Airport Road near the proposed projects. He said his house is about 40 feet higher than the proposed project location and no kind of screening will be able to block his view of the projects.
“We aren’t paying more than $5,000 per year in property taxes to have our property value drop with the installation of this project,” Martinson said.
Derek Hiland, community development director for DeKalb County, said during the Wednesday meeting that the state has not awarded any projects in the program yet. He said the lottery deadline for the Illinois solar power program has been pushed back to Jan. 30.
Nathan Wozniak, project development analyst for U.S. Solar, said the company reached out to affected residents via mailed notices and representatives spoke to a number of residents after the committee meeting last week. He said the County Board action could thwart the company’s chances to enter the lottery by the state’s deadline.
“We’re doing the best we can to compromise,” Wozniak said.
Board member Steve Faivre, who also heads the county’s Planning and Zoning Committee, said he acknowledged U.S. Solar met their legal obligations for the special use permit. He said his concern was more that the company didn’t reach an actual resolution with concerned residents like other companies have up to this point.
“I know you’ve tried and met the letter of the law, but certainly not the spirit,” Faivre said.
The next committee meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Jan. 23, and the County Board meets next at 7 p.m. Feb. 20.