DANVILLE — As the Danville City Council met at city hall Tuesday night, Sol Systems representatives met with a few neighbors to talk about resubmitting its solar panel project on Aqua Illinois property.
The project failed to receive a majority city council vote, with five aldermen voting for the project and seven voting against it in May 2019.
The project now has a few changes including a setback increased from 150 feet to keep a minimum 200 feet of wooded buffer, there’s also the commitment to 10 foot of additional vegetative buffer, there will be fixed solar panels tilted south and also a commitment to a 10-foot tall privacy fence behind the vegetative buffer. The fence had been previously proposed at seven feet.
The project still would see the installation of about 7,000 solar panels on land near Aqua Illinois’ water treatment plant at 1300 W. Fairchild St. in the AG Agriculture Zoning District.
Sol Systems, LLC said their new special-use permit request to allow for the construction of the large ground solar energy system could come before the Danville Area Planning and Zoning Commission at its March 5 meeting.
The project already had been accepted for a large distribution generation solar energy site in the state's solar energy tax credit lottery by the Illinois Power Agency.
Sol Systems out of Washington, D.C. has continued to work with Aqua and evaluate options. Sol Systems officials say this will be a 1.6 megawatt AC project on eight acres.
Neighbors have been against the project due to the aesthetics of seeing the solar panels near their residential area, and effects on property values.
Ward 5 Aldermen Mike Puhr and Tom Stone asked officials to re-stake the boundaries of the property with flags to show neighbors where it will be. Puhr also said neighbors can view the site now with less vegetation on the trees.
Aqua Illinois Area Manager Andy Price again said the project will help Aqua avoid raising rates as often. The solar panels are estimated to save Aqua about $4 million in energy savings over 25 years.
City officials said the proper notifications were sent to neighbors about the Tuesday night meeting.
Sol Systems officials said they wanted to talk with neighbors first to get feedback and address lingering concerns before the special-use permit again went through the zoning and city council process.
At the Danville City Council meeting on Tuesday, the council heard another Report It! presentation on the city’s new website app for the public to report code enforcement and other issues. Geographic Information System Coordinator Adam Aull said setting it up in house saves the city about $11,000 a year from the former app.
The council heard from Robinson Street resident Melissa Brandon about neighbor issues, including noise.
“We’re all dealing with the crime,” she said.
She wants to see landlords take some responsibility for their properties and renter issues.
She also looks forward to video cameras going in neighborhoods to fight crime.
Mayor Rickey Williams Jr. also announced the Housing Committee members, with non-voting member Ward 6 Alderman Aaron Troglia.
The committee’s first meeting is at 2 p.m. Feb. 12 at city hall, 17 W. Main St.