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Hearing Thursday for first proposed large solar garden in DeKalb County

June 6, 2018

SYCAMORE – The first large solar energy system proposal will go before a DeKalb County hearing officer Thursday afternoon.

Michael Klingl of the architecture firm GreenFarrow, which has an office in Arlington Heights, has submitted an application on behalf of Borrego Solar Systems Inc., which wants to built a 13.7-acre solar garden in Milan Township, according to county documents. The proposed site is on Elva Road, about 750 feet west of Anderland Road in Milan, which is southwest of DeKalb.

The property is zoned for agriculture, and solar gardens need a special use permit in that district.

The county document said the hearing will be the only chance for public comment, so anyone wishing to share their opinion about the proposal should attend. The hearing will be at 1 p.m. Thursday in the DeKalb County Administrative Center’s Conference Room East, 110 E. Sycamore St. You can see the special use permit petition at the DeKalb County Community Development Department, also in that building.

The DeKalb County Board approved its solar energy ordinance March 21, after many workshops and two public hearings. It went into effect April 1.

One sticking point during discussions was the setback requirement, which was reduced from 500 feet to 100 feet. Derek Hiland, Community Development director, had suggested 250 feet. He’s said the county has heard from several companies interested in building solar projects in the county.

County Board Chairman Mark Pietrowski echoed that sentiment.

“I’m anticipating multiple hearings for proposals for solar projects this year,” he said.

He said the one on Thursday’s agenda isn’t necessarily the largest proposal, either.

Pietrowski also said Whiskey Acres, 11504 Keslinger Road, has installed solar panels, and was able to forego a public hearing because the business already existed. Whiskey Acres’ owner, Jamie Walter, asked several questions during one of the public hearings on the solar ordinance, and said a solar energy farm that produces 2 megawatts is the ideal size for producing energy and tapping into incentives offered by the state.

Messages left for GreenFarrow and Borrego Solar Systems have not been returned.