By Bob Balgemann

Reporter

Interest around Boone County in solar farms has increased on a number of fronts.

First, the County Board has approved a lease-option agreement with TerraNavigator for a 20-acre solar development at Landfill No. 2, off Illinois 76, north of Belvidere. See a related story in today’s issue.

Second, county planning staff has initiated a text amendment to Chapter 4 of the County Code, Design Criteria for Special Uses, to include solar farms. That proposal is currently being discussed by the zoning board of appeals (ZBA).

Third, Borrego Inc. out of Chicago has requested a special use permit to allow development of a 12.4-acre solar farm at 18219 N. Route 76. The County Plan Commission is recommending approval of the request, subject to various conditions.

Next stop for both of them will be the Planning, Zoning And Building Committee, one of seven standing committees of the county board that makes recommendations on a variety of issues. Then the board will make a final decision.

Consideration of the text amendment is taking place simultaneously with the proposed farms off Route 76.

Among the criteria being discussed by the ZBA are:

* Setbacks being proposed by the County Planning Department are a minimum of 75 feet on the front of the development, from the public right of way, and 40 feet from all other properties except those with residential dwellings on them. Then the setback would be 150 feet. Another line of thinking would have those setbacks 250 feet.

* Under the heading of screening and fencing, a 25-foot-wide buffer would be required, with part of it being a compact, green hedge. The hedge would be at least 3 feet in height, when planted, with the expectation that it reach 15 feet in height.

The development would have to be fully encircled by a fence at least 8 feet in height.

* Lighting may not exceed 30 feet in height and must be shielded from the view of adjacent properties.

* Noise that can be heard more than 500 feet from the project is not allowed.

* There must be a detailed, multi-faceted decommission plan and it would be put into action should…

For complete article, pick up the April 15 Belvidere Daily Republican.