DANVILLE – After further review of a Tuesday city council vote on a solar project at Aqua Illinois’ water treatment plant, outside legal counsel says the permit failed due to a lack of a majority vote.
Aqua Illinois Area Manager Bob Ervin said he received the phone call from Mayor Rickey Williams Jr. Wednesday afternoon.
It was a phone call that made residents happy for their neighborhood, but was a setback for Aqua Illinois, which hoped to save about $100,000 a year.
Through an email, Ervin stated, “We are disappointed with the outcome and the loss of an opportunity for our customers here in Danville and Vermilion County to realize the financial and environmental benefits that are available with this solar energy project. We are reviewing the outcome of the city council vote, but have no other comments to make at this time.”
Williams said the city checked with legal counsel with the Illinois Municipal League in addition to seeking legal advice with city clerk Lisa Monson’s contacts through the Municipal Clerks of Illinois.
The city council voted 5-7 Tuesday night to approve the special-use permit to allow for the construction of a large ground solar energy system at Aqua Illinois’ water treatment plant at 1300 W. Fairchild St. in the AG Agriculture Zoning District.
Neighbors in opposition of the solar array at that site didn’t know two-thirds vote or nine ‘no’ votes were needed to deny the permit and overturn the Danville Area Planning and Zoning Commission’s 4-1 recommended approval.
Corporation Counsel David Wesner also said Tuesday night the vote total didn’t meet a majority of alderman to pass. There were 12 aldermen present, with a Ward 1 vacancy and Ward 6 Alderman Aaron Troglia absent due to vacation, according to Williams.
The council also voted against having a re-vote on the issue.
“This is a quality of life issue,” said resident Lynn McLinden.
Resident Vince Koers also said the 7,000 solar panels will “destroy an old established neighborhood.”
Ward 1 Alderwoman Brenda Brown sympathized with the residents’ concerns about property values and properties, because she said she was in the same situation with REG.
“This is where the pulse of the people can be felt,” she said about residents speaking out against the permit.
Aldermen and residents asked if Aqua and Sol Systems considered a different site, such as across the river. However, Ervin said it’s a flood zone and the proposed solar array near the Ameren substation has been pushed as far west and south on the proposed 9 acres as it can be.
Other aldermen, including Ward 7 Alderman Bob Iverson and Ward 5 Alderman Tom Stone, said they’re on board with the solar project, but neighbors are against it.
“You people showed up tonight and I thank you for that,” added Ward 4 Alderwoman Sharon McMahon, who also sympathized with the residents. McMahon had a liquor store open near her residence and she said they have to clean up the garbage before they mow.