Discussions concerning Ridge Farm will be about solar and hog projects next week.

At Tuesday’s Vermilion County Board meeting, board members will consider a permit application for a 2,851 kilowatt solar farm at 150 North Road, about a mile from the Indianola-Ridge Farm road.

The county board approved a solar energy ordinance this summer and the next day heard from Dynamic Energy about the Ridge Farm site, said Vermilion County Board Chairman Larry Baughn.

The Illinois solar energy tax credit lottery saw four proposed projects in Vermilion County.

Baughn said sees the solar projects as being “not as disruptive, (with farmers able to) farm around it a little easier” versus wind energy projects, and easier to remove.

Requirements for the Solar Farm Energy Systems (SFES) include: a building permit; the start of construction on a site within two years of application approval by the county board; height not exceeding 18 feet at maximum tilt of the solar panels; lot will be more than 5 acres in size; the front, side and rear yard setbacks are a minimum of 10 feet from the property lines which form the outside perimeter of the project area and also 100 feet from a residential structure; a locked fence to enclose the SFES of at least 6 feet tall but no greater than 8 feet; if lighting is provided, it shall be shielded and downcast such that the light does not spill onto the adjacent parcel; noise levels measured at the property line shall comply with standards set out by the Illinois Pollution Control Board and may be enforced by the state and county; the SFES shall prevent glare toward inhabited buildings on adjacent properties and highways, and placement of the generator or noise producing electrical equipment shall be placed at the center of the project to the extent practical; and all wiring between solar panels and the solar farm facility substation shall be underground whenever possible.

There also are outdoor storage, proof of an Agriculture Impact Mitigation Agreement, building codes, vegetation and ground cover and weed control, drainage, “high voltage” warning signs if needed and annual review and reporting requirements and a decommissioning plan must be submitted.

The application process also has a fee and requirements.

The Illinois Legislature passed the Future Energy Jobs Act, with incentives and tax credits, which went into effect in 2017. The new law allows for the installation of solar panels such as on properties for a community solar project where people can subscribe to a share of a larger solar farm.

Behind the meter projects are when a business or organization can install solar that directly powers their business or building. Quaker Danville was a business approved in the state’s solar energy tax credit lottery for large distribution generation solar energy sites.

In other county board business next week is the county’s new budget for Dec. 1, 2019 to Nov. 30, 2020. The county budget is increasing slightly from it’s current $40 million budget. The county is expecting about $75,000 in new revenue for the county’s share of taxes from the recreational cannabis law to go into effect Jan. 1, according to Baughn.

He said they’ve talked some about putting the funding toward public safety.

The total levy amount is proposed at $13.88 million. This is an increase from last year’s $13.62 million levy. This was figured from a projected assessed valuation going from $931,813,243 to $964,426,707.

The tax rate would increase from $1.42 per $100 assessed valuation to $1.43 per assessed valuation.

The Vermilion County Board will act Tuesday on putting the county’s proposed budget and tax levy on 30-day public display in the Vermilion County Clerk’s Office. Final votes on both are expected in November.

Hog Farm

Also next week is a public informational meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 10 at the David S. Palmer Arena, Room 127, 100 W. Main St., Danville.

The meeting is hosted by the Illinois Department of Agriculture, at the request of the Vermilion County Board, about the proposed construction of a 1,800 animal unit capacity swine facility from Parks E7 to be owned and operated by Parks Livestock of Oakwood. The facility is proposed to be located about 2.23 miles west of Ridge Farm.

The public can ask questions and present testimony.

Issues to be addressed include waste management requirements, protection of the environment, odor control, traffic patterns and construction.

Questions may be directed to Livestock Management Facilities Program, Illinois Department of Agriculture, P.O. Box 19281, Springfield, IL 62794-9281 or (217) 785-2427.

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