CENTRAL ILLINOIS (WMBD) — There has been strife surrounding solar farms and energy storage units in Central Illinois. While companies are trying to go green in Central Illinois, residents prefer their greenspace.
In January, the Morton Plan Commission voted against an energy storage unit taking up 20 acres of land. Residents repeatedly expressed concerns about the impact if there were to be a catastrophe in the community.
“I don’t want to give the perception that there isn’t a concern because there certainly is. But from what I researched this isn’t the 3-mile island level concern either where we would expect there to be this horrific disaster that made us evacuate our town,” Morton Fire Chief Joe Kelley said at the meeting.
Ultimately on Monday the Village Board agreed with the commission’s recommendation and unanimously denied the proposal.
Tuesday night the Tazewell County Zoning Board of Appeals also unanimously voted to not rezone 81.86 acres of land or issue a special use permit to construct a solar farm in Washington. The five megawatt farm would take up close to 40 acres of solar panels and residents were not pleased with the proposal.
“Solar farming removes rich productive farmland from growing valuable food to provide for the world. Once it is transitioned to solar production it will likely never return to farm ground ever again. At least not in my lifetime,” said Washington resident Karen Hofstetter.
Last week the City of Peoria’s Planning and Zoning Commission also rejected a request for a special use permit for a solar farm on six acres of land. The general consensus across the region is a concern for safety, wildlife and the impact on property value.
“The winners are the ones that are making the money. It could be a church or it could be a business. The losers are the people who live nearby who are losing their green space, losing property value,” Peoria resident Bruce Mills said at a January meeting.
In Tazewell County the decision to reject a special use permit is final but the petition to rezone will go before the County Board Feb. 22. In Peoria the special use permit request will go before the City Council Feb. 28.