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County Working On Solar Farm Zoning Amendment

By Alex Haglund

The Washington County Board heard about a solar farm text amendment that is in the process of being drafted during the April 10 meeting of the board.
“The Committee, Rick and Linda (County Zoning Administrator Rick Greten and Linda Tragesser of the Southwestern Illinois Planning Commission) have been working on the text amendment for solar farms, said Victor Shubert, chair of the board’s zoning committee.
Shubert stated that their plan was to complete a draft of the text amendment and have it vetted by legal counsel and before the board at the May meeting, so that the county could be prepared before any applications for solar farms came in.
The amendment that they are working on, “Only allows a ‘large scale solar farm’ in an ag district,” said Greten. He continued, saying that they planned a special meeting of the zoning board in the early part of May to finish fleshing out the details.
In addition to codifying the definitions for a business of this type and setting rules up for their construction, compared to other types of zoning applications, “the fees are substantial,” Shubert told the board. “There’s also money that we’ll be asking them to set aside in case company goes bust, for decommissioning.”
Shubert stated to the board that he wanted to make it clear that this amendment would only apply to large scale, commercial solar farms. He stated that it would not apply farmers or residents who installed solar panels for their own use.
As the amendment progresses along, and then is passed by the county board, “hopefully, when we get somebody who applies, we’ll be ready for them,” said Greten.
In other zoning issues, the board approved two cases. The first was a zoning map amendment changing 3.9 acres from Ag to R1 for the construction of a residence by Matt Gajewski.
The second was a special use permit allowing the erection of a sign by Komatsu and the T-Ham Sign Company.

Personnel And Appointments

A number of appointments were brought by Shubert to the full board for approval.
Numerous appointments were made to fire boards through the county. These included:
Addieville: Jeff Zapp
Ashley: John Lanham
Coulterville: Roger Greten
Hoyleton: Gary Unverfehrt
Irvington: John Reynolds
Marissa: Dennis Wright
Nashville: Charles Brink and Roger Kramm
Okawville: Earl Weeke
St. Libory: Eric Brammeier tendered his resignation from the board and will be replaced for the small remainder of this term by Zachary Brammeier, who is then also to serve the new term (which begins in a month).
Three seats on the Washington County Hospital Board were open as well. Both David Niermann and Dale Blohm were reappointed to the board.
Kevin Rench’s term finished and he stepped down. Brad Holzhauer was appointed to fill the seat Rench vacated.
In other personnel issues, county official salaries for the circuit clerk, sheriff, county treasurer, assessor and clerk were all approved for a $750 raise per year for the next four years.
The per diem payment for the county board chairman was increased from $125 to $175 per meeting. This only applies to meetings of the full board, not committee meetings.

Summer Concerts

The board approved a request from the Washington County Arts council for the use of the courthouse lawn for their summer concert series.
These concerts are held on Thursday nights (with the exception of the Fourth of July, a Wednesday this year), at 6 p.m.
For the past few years, the concerts have been held at the pavilion at Memorial Park in Nashville, due to the renovation of the courthouse and concerns by the board for the wellbeing of the lawn.
Following the Fall Festival this year though, the lawn and landscaping stood up quite well and the board approved the request.

Other Items

The board signed a resolution in support of Community College Month, April. For more, see here.
The Sheriff’s Department reported a very full house at the Washington County Jail. As of the evening of the meeting, there were 15 federal prisoners and 13 county prisoners housed there.
Washington County Animal Control reported that they were now having evening hours at the shelter for the public, to allow for more adoption opportunities for members of the public who might not be able to make it in for their morning hours.
The evening hours will be on Tuesdays from 2 to 7 p.m., and began on Tuesday, April 17.
Rabies Clinics are coming up as well. They will be held on April 30, May 1, and May 3 of this year.

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