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Board OKs five more solar farms

Boom sparked by new state law

OTTAWA — The LaSalle County Board approved several more electricity-generating solar farm proposals Monday.

The five farms would be on East Eighth Road in Vermilion Township, East 17th Road in Earl Township, and East Seventh Road in Richland Township, as well as U.S. Route 34 in Mendota Township and North 46th Road in Meriden Township.

Brian Gift, of the County Development, Environmental Services and Land Use Office, noted the proposed farms also need state approval to come into being.

There were several votes against approving the farms. The County Zoning Board of Appeals, which reviewed the proposals before the proposals went before the County Board, recommended the County Board not approve the farms.

Earlier this year, the board signed off on several other solar projects in other parts of the county.

Zoning Board and County Board members who have voted against the solar farms have said they don’t like cropland being taken out of cultivation.

The boom in solar farms is spurred by a law that took effect last year, requiring Illinois utilities to get 25 percent of their power for retail sale from renewable sources, such as solar and wind, by 2025.

TIF District prolonged

The County Board also agreed with Utica to extend Utica’s tax increment financing district another 12 years. The district was established in 1995. The additional period was added because there are a number of private development and public improvement projects that need to be finished, especially the new Waltham Elementary School, said County Board Chairman Jerry Hicks.

The district was originally set for 23 years.

The TIF district also includes LaSalle, but the county and that city are still negotiating terms of the district.

Nursing home

The board raised the daily housing rates at the county nursing home, effective Jan. 1. A private room goes from $157 to $162, and semi-private from $147 to $152, and expanded semi-private and rehabilitation suites are both going from $150 to $155.

Debris dump gets nod

The board approved the establishment of a clean construction and demolition debris dump on 107 acres at Utica’s southern edge, near Route 178 and North 27th Road. The site will be run by LaFarge Aggregates Illinois Inc. The zoning board had recommended the dump by a vote of 6-0.

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