Maryland company seeking approval for 2 solar farms near St. Joseph

Maryland company seeking approval for 2 solar farms near St. Joseph

ST. JOSEPH — Last week, the Champaign County Board voted to amend zoning rules to allow for solar farms.

Tonight, the Maryland-based Community Power Group LLC will go before the county's zoning board of appeals to seek approval for two solar farms. One of them would be located north of the St. Joseph Sportsman Club.

This location puts the farm in violation of the new county board rules, which state that solar farms must be a half-mile away from a village limit. The power group is asking for the distance to be limited to 725 feet.

Village Attorney Joe Lierman said St. Joseph had no legal right to control the farms, as it can with subdivisions.

Sidney Village President Chuck White said the first solar farm in his town would occupy 1,200 acres.

The two proposed farms in St. Joseph would cover 40 and 50 acres. Mayor Tami Fruhling-Voges said the company is asking for a resolution saying the village does not object to the project.

Lierman said the village could object to the project because it is considered R-1 zoning in the village's comprehensive plan.

"Clearly, we view that as developing as residential, and if a solar farm goes in, it will be that way for 20 or 25 years," Lierman said.

Lierman said one plus of adding the solar farms would be the additional tax revenue they would bring into the school districts and the county.

"The schools will get most of it," Lierman said.