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Solar, wind energy regulations back for another look

DANVILLE –The Danville Area Planning and Zoning Commission this week will revisit changes to the city’s zoning ordinance pertaining to solar energy and wind energy system regulations.

City council members last month sent back to the zoning commission the zoning ordinance proposed additions to be further reviewed.

Resident Vince Koers brought up issues regarding sound from wind turbines and also contamination issues regarding solar energy panels.

Danville Planning and Urban Services Manager Chris Milliken said because they had the public hearing already on the issue, he’ll discuss the zoning ordinance additions again with the commission to consider any possible language changes.

Milliken again said the wind energy regulations aren’t for a wind farm in the city or zoning jurisdiction, only for a single wind turbine such as near a school or business site. It would be restricted to agriculture, rural residential, professional, general business and industrial zoning districts.

There also are property setbacks, lighting and other regulations such as removal of the wind turbines if abandoned.

The regulations are more stringent than cell phone towers, Milliken added.

The solar panel regulations would allow for small ground-mounted or roof-mounted systems. Unlike for wind, the solar panels if roof mounted would not have zoning district restrictions.

Milliken said he’s researched the solar panel manufacturing process and what the panels are made of. He will provide that to the commission.

There are very stringent controls if panels are broken or need to be replaced. There would be no leaking of any chemical into the ground, and the panels can be recycled such as back to a manufacturer, Milliken said.

“Parts of them can be recycled like a computer or other electronic device …,” he added.

Large-scale arrays would be “pretty limited,” Milliken said. They could go on industrial-zoned property or agriculture-zoned property with a special-use permit.

State renewable energy incentives and tax credits are encouraging more solar development.

Milliken said the zoning ordinance additions are to provide for protections and provisions.

In other business Thursday, the zoning commission will continue discussions on urban design guidelines, more wayfinding signage and other ongoing projects, in addition to other possible zoning ordinance changes.

Milliken said they’ve been talking about parking requirements and downtown zoning in general, including focusing more on what a buildings looks like than what’s in it, and also food trucks.

Coming Up

The Danville Area Planning and Zoning Commission will meet at 5:15 p.m. Thursday at the Robert E. Jones Municipal Building, 17 W. Main St.