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Bradley mulls solar farm effects

August 1, 2018

BRADLEY — The village of Bradley is studying a company’s proposal for a solar farm just outside the town’s boundaries.

Cypress Creek Renewables, which is planning a number of solar projects around Kankakee County, is asking the county to change the zoning of 74 acres near Bradley from residential to agricultural. This will allow it to seek a permit for a solar farm.

The land in question is near Armour Road, 1 mile east of Interstate 57. The bulk of Bradley is to the west of the planned solar farm, although a portion of the village snakes around its northeastern side.

Village administrator Catherine Wojnarowski said local officials are trying to figure out the project’s “risks and benefits to our community.”

“We’re still working to understand the scope of the project,” she said.

The county’s zoning board is expected to hold a public hearing on the project at its meeting Monday.

In its proposal, Cypress Creek said the land in question never has been used for residential purposes, to its knowledge, even though it’s been zoned that way for more than four decades.

According to its proposal, Cypress plans to invest $3.9 million into the project. Through this investment, the county can expect more than $2.3 million in spending in the local economy, 25 local jobs during construction and tax money throughout the life of the project.

According to the county planning department’s analysis, the county’s long-term plan for development of the land in question designates it as an area for community growth, where the county should follow the village’s recommendations.

The department notes Bradley’s plan designated the property in question for open space and other opportunities.

Momence is facing a situation similar to Bradley’s. Last month, the zoning board recommended changing an area long zoned as residential northeast of town to agricultural, paving the way for a solar farm.

In that case, the mayor and city council are on record as opposing the project, saying it would sacrifice an opportunity for housing development. The full county board is expected to vote on the solar farm at its Aug. 14 meeting.

Also on Monday, the zoning board will look at proposed solar farms in Pilot, Essex, Rockville and Manteno townships.

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