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Local News

Requested permit changes to Kendall County solar field to go to public hearing

YORKVILLE – Requested special use permit changes for a solar energy project near the Kendall County jail will go to a public hearing scheduled for next month.

Jason Engberg, senior planner for community development in Yorkville, said the Yorkville City Council already approved a special use permit for the project by GRNE Solar in December 2018. Due to some conditions of the ordinance, however, the petitioner is requesting to repeal the current one and replace it with a new special use permit, he said.

Engberg said the two main changes the petitioner is looking at is not being limited to using vinyl fencing.

“And, I believe, that it was so cost prohibitive that they wanted to go through this process to see if they could get a wood fence," Engberg said. "It's still solid, still opaque, still going to be tall enough to cover the maximum height of the solar farm – [it’s] just the fact that it would be made of wood instead of vinyl."

Pete Ratos, building code official for Yorkville, said the fencing would still have to meet 100 mph wind requirements per international building code. He said the wood would have to be stained and treated anyway and most of the product already comes out that way from factories.

“So commercial wooden fences usually end up staying pretty nice for a pretty long period of time,” Ratos said.

The update comes after Kendall County officials had said they and city representatives were working out additional details to save some money and move forward on the project.

The County Board previously approved several measures related to the solar field project in March 2018. The county also received state credits for the project in May 2019 after the city issued the permit for the solar field a month before then.

Matt Kellogg, county board member and chairman for the county's facilities management committee, had said the previously approved parameters would cost the county and taxpayers $175,000. County officials had said the county getting its power from the solar field – which will be used to power the courthouse, Public Safety Center and Health and Human Services building – is expected to save county taxpayers $160,000 annually, or $4 million total.

Engberg said the changes also include making some adjustments to landscaping on the west side of the site.

Dan Kramer, who is the lawyer representing GRNE Solar, said he wanted to stress that the company is not talking about going with absolutely no plant landscaping on west side. He said there just were plants near the site that would’ve been knocked down to make way for the solar panel arrays that could be salvageable to use for landscaping, along with possibly using different types of plants that might take less time to grow.

Kramer said the petitioner don’t want to touch a bit of landscaping changes on the south side of the site.

“We made a deal with those neighbors," Kramer said. "We’re sticking with it.”

Engberg said he anticipates the new and revised special use permit request to go before the city's planning and zoning commission during a hearing scheduled for 7 p.m. Jan. 8 at City Hall, 800 Game Farm Road. He said it is set to go before the City Council in February.

Meanwhile, city economic development officials also discussed a requested special use permit from representatives of Wrigley Manufacturing. The company wants to install and operate a freestanding solar and wind energy systems to help power their main outdoor sign so it can be lit overnight at the company's building at 2800 N. Bridge St.

The request from Wrigley Manufacturing will also go to the city's planning and zoning commission during a hearing scheduled for 7 p.m. Jan. 8 at City Hall.

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