Solar-farm developer already seeking exception to county's new rules

Solar-farm developer already seeking exception to county's new rules

ST. JOSEPH — In the wake of the Champaign County Board’s vote Thursday to amend zoning rules to allow for solar farms, one company is already seeking approval for two of them — and in ways that bend the newly minted rules.

Maryland-based Community Power Group LLC will go before the county’s zoning board of appeals next week seeking approval for two solar farms. One of them would be located north of the St. Joseph Sportsman Club, northeast of the village, putting it in violation of the new rules, which say solar-farm panels must be at least a half-mile away from a city limit. Community Power Group is asking for that distance to be reduced by about 75 percent, to 725 feet.

John Hall, the county’s director of planning and zoning, said the company is trying to play nice.

“When you look at the site plans in the context of the development that’s around the solar farms and the larger regional pattern of development, the one near St. Joseph is on the other side of the interstate,” Hall said. “When you look at the whole picture of what’s proposed, I think it seems to me pretty clear to me that the solar-farm developers are trying to be sensitive to each location and responding to those locations as best they can.”

St. Joseph Mayor Tami Fruhling-Voges could not be reached for comment. The village board is expected to talk about the issue next week.

Community Power Group Managing Member Michael Borkowski also could not be reached for comment.

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