May 25, 2017

DeKalb County zoning committee pushes wind test towers for approval

By Stephanie Markham | Daily Chronicle |

SYCAMORE – The DeKalb County Planning and Zoning Committee voted Wednesday to recommend that the DeKalb County Board approve a California energy company’s request to install wind testing towers in South Grove Township.

The recommendation passed unanimously except for an abstention by committee member and County Board Vice Chairman Tracy Jones, who said he owns land that EDF Renewable Development Inc. is considering for development.

DeKalb County Hearing Officer Dale Clark forwarded a favorable recommendation to the committee after two public hearings on the request under conditions that the company remove the towers after 18 months and that an irrevocable bond be issued to ensure their removal.

The company requested to leave up the two 198-foot wind testing towers for three years. The towers would be used to collect meteorological data to determine whether conditions are favorable to pursue a wind farm in DeKalb County.

P.J. Saliterman, EDF’s development director, said Wednesday that the company would need at least a year of data “to form any kind of actionable plan.”

The County Board established a moratorium in March on the development of wind and solar farms for 18 months or until a renewable energy ordinance is established. The moratorium does not prohibit the testing towers; however, the company still needs the board’s approval on a special use permit.

“What our intention will be, if we do get an ordinance we can work with, we will come back to the county to try to extend terms of those permits,” Saliterman said.

The committee amended Clark’s recommendation to include the requirement that fencing be installed around the towers based on concerns that arose during the second public hearing that children might play near them.

The committee also voted Wednesday to recommend an amendment to the wind and solar farm moratorium for approval by the board. The amendment would allow the personal installation of solar panels affixed to rooftops on commercial or industrial property as long as the energy is used on-site and not sold for profit.

Derek Hiland, DeKalb County’s community development director, said the idea behind the amendment came up during the committee’s previous meeting at which an apartment building owner indicated interest in using solar panels for his business.

Hiland asked committee members to further consider whether ground-mounted solar panels also should be allowed during the moratorium, because some businesses have hundreds of acres they could use as well.

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