County works to meet May 28 deadline
Officials aim at hitting state law compliance, code changes can come later
CLINTON — The county’s land use committee continued working Monday to align county code addressing commercial wind and solar projects with a new state law that takes effect at the end of May.
The Illinois law will prohibit counties from banning commercial wind and/or solar developments or from enacting moratoriums on such projects. The law sets site and zoning standards, and county governments will be prohibited from establishing standards that are more stringent.
According to the law, Illinois looks to encourage and accelerate new renewable development throughout the state by setting uniform requirements for wind and solar projects.
Once the law is in force, however, the county will be able to amend its wind and solar codes, providing they do not conflict with state law.
DeWitt County State’s Attorney Dan Markwell joined committee members to survey possible changes to the code in advance of the new law. Markwell felt some changes would be necessary, while others could wait.
Ultimately, the full county board will vote to approve any changes based on the committee’s recommendation.
Under the new state law, counties are not required to have their own wind and solar ordinances. It also is not mandated that counties require special use permits.
Markwell said, however, public hearings were required.
“You’ve got to have a hearing under this new statute,” Markwell said. “That can either take place in front of the board, or, if you’re going to run it through a special use permit, have it run all the way through or have everything stop at the ZBA (Zoning Board of Appeals).”
In answer to a question from committee member Patrick Ryan, Markwell said, in lieu of a special use permit requirement, the statute provides for the applicant to appear before the county board.
“You would still have a hearing, there would still be witnesses; they would still have to prove to the county board they have met the requirements of the statute, which is now required, and …met the requirements of the ordinance, as long as it’s consistent with the statute,” Markwell said.