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Council OKs solar, wind regulations

DANVILLE – The Danville City Council voted 10-4 Tuesday night to approve putting in place solar and wind energy regulations for the city.

Aldermen voting against the system regulations were Ward 1 Alderman Rickey Williams Jr, Ward 2 Aldermen Rick Strebing and Dan Duncheon and Ward 4 Alderwoman Sharon McMahon.

The small wind energy system 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’s 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 solar panel regulations will allow for small ground-mounted or roof-mounted systems. Unlike for wind, the solar panels if roof mounted do not have zoning district restrictions.

According to Chris Milliken, planning and urban services manager for the city, the city has had interest from about six developers in large-scale solar panel arrays on city-owned property or private farm ground. These large-scale arrays would be “pretty limited,” Milliken said. They could go on property zoned industrial, or also zoned agriculture with a special-use permit.

Illinois Future Energy Jobs Act incentives and tax credits have encouraged more of this development.

“We could see one or two potential (developers) in the next six to 12 months,” Milliken has said.

Resident Vince Koers was still concerned about the distance from residences, such as if a system located on industrial land on East Voorhees Street, and noise.

The state sets noise laws, but he said the city could be more restrictive.

“Passing a resolution with no sound controls is asking for trouble,” Koers said.

He also said the city was rushing this ordinance addition to cater to vendors and bring in more city revenue.

Ward 7 Alderman Steve Foster said he supported putting something in place.

“I do think we’re going in the right direction,” he said, adding that if the city doesn’t pass any regulations, officials may wish they did in the future and he’d rather have restrictions now than fix something later.

Foster also said these regulations are not for any specific project.

In other business, the council approved the appointment of Craig Davidson to the Vermilion Regional Airport Authority to take the place of Foster who has resigned. Conflicts were brought up by the Edgar County Watchdogs group about board members not being allowed to serve when they are on other governmental unit boards.

Davidson, in a letter of interest in serving on the airport board to Mayor Scott Eisenhauer, stated he’s been in aviation his entire adult and professional life. He’s been a flight instructor and freight pilot, commuter airline captain and worked for American Airlines. Since he’s been retired he’s at the airport five days a week and flies and maintains his World War II Trainer aircraft.