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Local

DeKalb County solar energy project count up to 32

Derek Hiland, community development coordinator for DeKalb County, addresses the DeKalb County Board during their meeting Wednesday night in Sycamore.
Derek Hiland, community development coordinator for DeKalb County, addresses the DeKalb County Board during their meeting Wednesday night in Sycamore.

SYCAMORE – And just like that, an additional baker’s dozen solar projects make their way through the DeKalb County Board during its meeting Wednesday night.

The board voted, 20-0, in favor of giving special use permits to 13 solar farms in Afton, Somonauk, Sandwich, Milan, Franklin and Mayfield townships. Board members Kevin Bunge, Misty Haji-Sheikh, Tracy Jones and John Frieders were absent.

Derek Hiland, community development director for the county, said there are 32 community solar projects that are at different stages of approval within the county. He said that includes six more projects in Genoa, Lee and Somonauk that will go before a county hearing officer at 1 p.m., 1:45 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Thursday, respectively, at the DeKalb County Administration Building Conference Room East, 110 E. Sycamore St.

“And I expect more to come in,” Hiland said.

Board Chairman Mark Pietrowski Jr. verified before the vote that solar energy project representatives reached out to nonparticipating neighbors of the projects regarding any concerns the residents may have.

According to county code, any specific matter that has been the subject of a public hearing cannot be addressed again by members of the public. However, anyone from the public who wants to speak on an item on that evening’s agenda can do so at the beginning of the meeting or at the time the board considers that particular item, the code reads.

Regardless of whether residents can offer comments during a county meeting, they can always reach out to their representatives, Hiland said.

“So their voice is still heard,” Hiland said. “Their voice can still be acknowledged and their concerns perhaps addressed through their county board member.”

The County Board also unanimously approved the fiscal 2019 budget ordinance, along with a change in county code that will raise building permit fees for commercial wind towers to $25 a foot of tower height for new sites and a fee of $1,200 for modifications to an existing tower site.

The original wind tower fee ordinance passed in 2009 established a building permit fee for commercial wind towers of $650 a tower. The change is related to the draft wind ordinance that is set to go before the DeKalb County Planning and Zoning Committee at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.

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