May 21, 2021
Illinois, Press releases

Two-thirds of Illinois counties oppose SB1602 limiting local zoning laws

Rebekah Fehr, May 21, 2021

Counties are voting to oppose a proposed state law that would take away local control zoning regulations relating to wind turbines. This would severely limit the ability of county governments to pass zoning laws relating to siting and other issues in wind energy development. The wording of SB1602 is in the Governor’s energy bill currently under consideration in the Spring Session of the Illinois General Assembly.

The wording in the Governor’s bill and in SB1602 will severely restrict the ability of local governments to enact zoning laws. If it becomes law, the proposal will strip the ability of local governments to determine what is in the best interests of their communities. As it’s drafted it would give wind and solar eminent domain. It also requires that zoning laws already in place be replaced and comply with the new mandates from Springfield. Local zoning should be left to the people who live within the communities and not dictated by someone else.

This bill takes away local control of zoning laws by allowing the state to impose broad restriction on zoning relating to wind turbines. The local zoning board commissions, zoning boards of appeals and county boards will become bystanders in the zoning process if this legislation or anything similar becomes part of the larger energy legislation.

Illinois is a diverse State. From the urban areas of Chicago to the Agriculture sections of Central Illinois and everything in between. Historically, the decision on enacting zoning laws was left to the local governments as they best understand the issues and concerns of their respective constituents. However, that will all change if the Illinois Legislature, as part of a larger energy package, passes a proposal to change the ways county governments pass zoning laws. It will severely restrict County Governments from enacting zoning legislation and effectively take control away from landowners.

The proposed legislation is based upon a false premise that County Governments are hindering the Governor’s renewable energy goals. Illinois is one of the leading wind developers in the country and this legislation is nothing more than a wish list for the wind energy lobbyists to the detriment of farmers and landowners throughout the State of Illinois and that is why local governments all over the state are voicing their objections.

Most, if not all, current county WECS ordinances include wording that landowners can waive local ordinances.

As of this morning, 68 counties have passed resolutions to oppose SB1602 and preserve county zoning rights.

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