Editor’s Note: The following letter recently was sent to the DeWitt County Board. It also was provided by its authors for publication here in the Clinton Journal.
As fifth-generation DeWitt County farmland owners and taxpayers, we take pride in the rural and agricultural heritage of this County and our farms. We also believe strongly in private property rights and smart development that secures a growing and stable tax base for our future.
We urge the County Board to maintain the provisions of the current DeWitt County Solar Ordinance that permit solar projects larger than 5 acres on land zoned General Industrial, Agricultural, and Rural Development Districts. The Zoning Board’s January 3 recommendations would limit such projects to General Industrial zoning only. The original zoning provisions are important for several reasons:
1. Limited zoning would unnecessarily limit private property rights and deny the majority of DeWitt County’s landowners potential lease and land sale income from solar development.
2. Solar projects inject significant additional tax revenue to taxing bodies, which can improve services and lower taxes for all County residents and taxpayers.
3. Solar compliments, not competes, with the Exelon power plant. The plant has been a good neighbor and taxpayer for decades and will continue to be an important source of energy for years to come. Solar will augment our taxes and tax base as part of a broad energy portfolio, just as Exelon’s own portfolio of plants includes one of the largest solar farms in the country.
4. Solar is low-impact development: solar farms are quiet, don’t create traffic, and represent a minimal demand on County services. The height restrictions and setbacks mean they will not alter the rural skyline – they cannot be seen for miles around.
5. Aggressive zoning restrictions will turn investment dollars and businesses away. Thoughtful development and permitting are important for the quality of life of all DeWitt County residents. But restrictive zoning out of step with our region will send the investment dollars, businesses, tax revenues and services that benefit all of us to other counties.
If the County Board seeks to contain solar development to preserve the agricultural use of the County, we suggest the County Board consider limiting the total County solar acreage, not restrict zoning.
C.H. Moore Farms, LP