Three times a charm for solar farm

November 15, 2018

KANKAKEE — After rejecting a proposed solar farm in Aroma Township twice before, the Kankakee County Board on Tuesday approved it.

A nearby resident said the project’s opposition became divided after the developer reached out to residents.

The project, owned by Community Power Partners, is near Heiland Road.

During the 28-member board’s monthly meeting, the proposed farm sailed through with just four members dissenting.

In an interview afterward, member Tinker Parker, R-St. Anne, who represents the area in question, said she was against the project all along because of nearby residents’ concerns. She said the solar farm would be too close to houses and a forest preserve.

Delbert Skimerhorn, the county’s zoning official, told the board the latest proposal shifted the site of the solar farm on the parcel of land it was planned for. Unlike previous zoning board meetings, no one came forward to object to the project when the latest proposal was presented in September.

After the county board rejected the project in May, its chairman, Andy Wheeler, R-Kankakee, warned members in an email the county was in a “precarious legal position” by denying it without giving any reasons. He suggested dissenters provide justifications in writing.

In June, the board voted against reconsidering the matter — in effect, rejecting it for a second time. But dissenters cited a reason, saying the solar farm would be detrimental to “the public health, safety, comfort or general welfare” of the area.

During public input before Tuesday’s decision, Wendy Menigoz, who lives near the proposed solar farm, thanked members who consistently voted to reject the project.

“You as a county board listened,” she said.

She said she didn’t have “the troops here” because they are divided on the solar farm.

“The developer went to all the people trying to make everyone as happy as he could possibly make them,” Menigoz said.

She didn’t specify what the developer did to satisfy some of the opposition.

Voting against the solar farm Tuesday were Parker; Elisabeth Dunbar, D-Kankakee; Todd Sirois, R-St. Anne; and Michael Zenz, R-Bourbonnais.

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