Government | Sauk Valley News

Testimony wraps up for proposed Meadow Solar farm in Dixon

DIXON – The Dixon Park District is hoping a proposed solar farm in Meadows Park will bring in additional revenue and provide energy cost savings, the district executive director testified before the Lee County Zoning Board.

Trajectory Energy Partners has a lease agreement in place with the Dixon Park District for 24 acres of land located near the dog park that’s currently leased for farming.

Under Meadow Solar LLC, the company is petitioning the county for a special-use permit, looking to develop a 5-megawatt community solar farm.

The annual lease is for $1,500 an acre with 3% increases each year for 25 years as well as a payment of $150,000 once the project is completed, park district executive director Duane Long said.

The district will also help the company market the solar farm and gather subscribers, which would receive a credit on their energy bills.

The company would hook into a nearby ComEd line, and they would use Illinois union labor during construction, Trajectory partner Josh Bushinsky said.

If approved, it’s estimated to generate about $30,000 in property tax revenue in its first year and total $630,000 across 25 years, said Dustin Elliott, Trajectory co-developer and director of legal and corporate affairs.

The solar arrays would be at a fixed tilt, rather than others that move to capture different angles of the sun, he said. They would be secured by steel pilings 8 to 12 feet deep, and the maximum height of the panels would be 20 feet, Elliott said.

It would be surrounded by a chain-link fence at least 7 feet tall, and panels will be covered in an anti-reflective coating to offset glare.

The project would be a $10 million investment, with $6 million going toward labor, Elliott said.

Meadow Solar is seeking two variances to the county’s solar regulations: an exemption from the requirement to provide visual buffers around the entire parcel footprint and a 225-foot setback from the adjacent Jack Mabley Developmental Center rather than the required 400 feet.

Although the project would take up 24 acres, the Meadows Park parcel spans more than 600 acres, making it project-prohibitive to provide visual buffers such as trees and bushes to that entire area, Elliott said.

Lee County has a moratorium on solar and wind developments while a committee reviews and makes changes to the ordinances regulating such projects, but it doesn’t include smaller community solar projects such as the one proposed at Meadows.

The Lee County Zoning Board next meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the old Lee County Courthouse. The board will compile statements of facts based on the evidence and testimony presented and will vote on a recommendation, which will go to the County Board for a final vote.

Rachel Rodgers

Rachel Rodgers

Rachel Rodgers joined Sauk Valley Media in 2016 covering local government in Dixon and Lee County.