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County board against zoning restrictions bill

DANVILLE— The Vermilion County Board approved a resolution Tuesday night calling for Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker and the General Assembly to protect local control of zoning and land use.

The resolution calls on state leaders to vote no on Senate Bill 1602.

SB1602 calls for the state to have the authority to make some zoning restrictions for counties across the state, but for the county to be the enforcers of such restrictions,” according to Vermilion County Board Chairman Larry Baughn.

“I believe it is in the best interest for all that we continue to have local control,” Baughn says.

The resolution states: Section 5-12001 of the counties code provides the county board or board of county commissioners of each county “shall have the power to regulate and restrict the location and use of buildings, structures and land” and “to regulate and restrict the intensity of such uses, to establish building or setback lines on or along any street, trafficway, drive, parkway or storm or floodwater runoff channel or basin outside the limits of cities, villages and incorporated towns which have in effect municipal zoning ordinances”

Also, consistent with their zoning authority, numerous counties throughout the state of Illinois have adopted zoning and setback regulations related to wind energy facilities such as the model ordinance prepared by the Chicago Environmental Law Clinic and have made substantial revisions over time to suit the needs of their counties and the residents of their counties.

Senate Bill 1602 was filed in the Illinois Senate on Feb. 26, 2021 and seeks to mandate very specific timelines and procedural requirements regarding siting approval or a special use permits for commercial wind energy facilities. Senate Bill 1602 also mandates substantive changes including setback requirements, blade tip height limitations, and sound limitations; and Senate Bill 1602 requires that any currently-existing county zoning ordinances pertaining to wind farms be amended within 120 days to comply with the requirements of the bill and prohibits a county from adopting any future restrictions on the installation or use of a commercial wind energy facility that are inconsistent with the provisions of the bill.

Also, the changes contained in Senate Bill 1602 ignore differences that occur locally from county to county across Illinois and remove a county board’s ability to regulate those local differences and address the concerns of their residents; and Senate Bill 1602 further undermines local control in that it substitutes state level legislative determination for the local control exercised by county zoning commissions, zoning boards of appeals and county boards.

The county board is the best entity to support the needs, interests and safety of its residents due to direct feedback and understanding of the county’s needs, while state officials or industry leaders who do not reside in these counties may not be aware of the most relevant and current information, it further states.

The county board opposes Senate Bill 1602 or any similar legislation that would undermine the county board’s local zoning authority. The county board urges the Illinois General Assembly to abandon any efforts to advance Senate Bill 1602 and the county board urges Gov. Pritzker to veto Senate Bill 1602 or any similar bill should the General Assembly pass such legislation.

In other business, the county board approved an amendment to the combined annual budget and appropriation ordinance for the county treasurer.

The tax sale for 2020 was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic; and this requires the county to essentially conduct two tax sales in one year causing some additional costs including additional personnel costs due to the extended tax collection cycle.

The costs: $200 for supplies/office; $7,500 for postage; $4,000 for publications; $8,000 for contractual/professional services and $4,500 for salary-personnel.

The 2020 tax sale was in Feb. 2021.

The county board also approved a county bridge fund resolution, and an ordinance regarding fireworks sales.

According to Baughn, this allows “licensed sellers” of fireworks to sell to and only to “licensed buyers” as allowed by state statute. It does not allow “fly by night” operations to set up in the county for sales.

[NWW note: It has been reported to NWW that as of May 21 the number of counties opposing SB 1602 is up to 68 (of 102 counties in the state).]