City Council discusses possible solar panel garden

Steven Barnum , Assistant News Editor



A solar garden may soon occupy a 28-acre lot on the Northside of University Drive.

City Administrator, Dean Torreson, says the garden would only include solar panels, which would be eight feet above the ground. The proposal was discussed in a Nov. 28 planning commission meeting, where members voted in favor of the project with a 10-0 vote. There was one individual at that meeting who expressed concern, says Community Development Coordinator, John Bannon.

“He was concerned about property devaluation and effects on livestock,” Bannon said.

City Attorney, Kristen Petrie, says there was no other opposition. Petrie referenced the fact that all property owners within 250 feet of the possible solar garden were notified and the zoning office received zero concerns. There are several conditions the property would need to meet, like constructing a fence that is seven feet tall, made of mesh and surrounds the entire garden.

Bannon believes there are benefits to a solar garden. “It would be a source of green energy, which is always preferable,” Bannon said. “I think you’re looking at a source of power that will have no longterm impact on that land.” As for the likelihood of the solar garden, residents shouldn’t count on it.

“This is only a proposed use,” Bannon said. “There is a lottery in the state of Illinois, so there’s no guarantee that this construction will actually take place.”

Torreson wants to make sure the city gets a fair chance.“It’s important to get the application in in a timely manner for the lottery,” Torreson said, “so I would recommend that the city council waive the second reading.”

If chosen, the lottery would award tax credits. Macomb would not face any new expenses since the property is not in city limits.

The council ultimately decided to waive the second reading so that the city could submit an application.

Elsewhere in town, Macomb will accept a land donation north of Kiljordan Creek.

Dave and Jackie Thompson are gifting the piece of property, which is located on South Pearl Street. The property occupies nearly three fourths of an acre and is made up of mostly green space. Once official, the city will be responsible for mowing the grass and maintaining the land, but they will not owe taxes on the property.

Macomb is still mulling over a restricted-parking proposal for Lamoine Retirement Center. In previous discussions, Aldermanat- large, Dennis Moon, and Alderwoman, Gayle Carper, weren’t fully in support of designated parking, but left the door open for a compromise. When the new proposal is discussed at next week’s meeting, limited-minute loading zones on Randolph and Carroll Streets will be up for debate.

Alderman, Annette Carper, announced that Lamoine Senior Living Center opened its doors this weekend. Carper is also the executive director of the retirement facility and plans to sustain from the council’s vote on the proposal.

Public Works Director, Scott Coker, announced that the wastewater department and street department have found faulty sewers in town. Coker says the sewers they have identified, which are storm sewers and sanitary sewers, have not “completely failed” but will need to undergo a reconstruction process.

The city has $100,000 budgeted for problems like this, with an additional $157,000 in a sewer fund. The council voted to allow Coker to collect bids for the project, which won’t begin until after the winter.

To tie a loose end from last week, the city council voted to approve the audit on Macomb’s finances. Dave Meyer from a Joliet, Ill. accounting firm presented the records, which were clean, at last week’s meeting. Meyer described Macomb’s $7 million cash reserve as “healthy” and didn’t find anything that stwas concerning.