Neighbors oppose location of McHenry County solar panels

John Garcia Image
Thursday, April 26, 2018
Neighbors oppose location of McHenry County solar panels
Those who live near a proposed site for solar panels in McHenry County are concerned about possible radiation and a negative effect on property values.

MCHENRY COUNTY, Ill. (WLS) -- Neighbors are concerned about a plan to put solar panels on farmland in McHenry County.

The proposed site is 35 acres of farmland in unincorporated McHenry County. Some who live near the site are worried about possible radiation, and a potential negative effect on property values.

"The idea is getting renewables on the grid, and to back away from a reliance on fossil fuels," said Scott Novack of Cypress Creek Renewables.

Novack's company is putting up solar panel farms across the state in response to a mandate by Illinois lawmakers to increase the state's use of renewable energy. But in McHenry County they have run into substantial opposition from residents near the proposed site. Many filled the room at Wednesday's zoning board hearing.

"Who is going to buy a lot next to a solar farm?" wondered Walter Weidner, who has owned the property next door for more than 60 years.

Many opponents said they support the concept of renewable energy, just in a different locations. They said they are concerned about issues ranging from decreases property value, to taxes, to glare from the panels.

"This is high-quality land," said Eric Taubery, who lives in a nearby housing subdivision. "So we're taking land out of production for solar panels that could be placed anywhere, on brown land or an industrial area."

Leaders from three surrounding towns are among those who have voiced opposition to the project. May said it's the right idea, but the wrong place for it.

"I'm not against solar if they put it on land where it's got no value. This is prime farmland," said neighbor Walter Bruhn.

"Despite the opponents, we would like to be a part of McHenry County. We'd like to be a part of the community," Novack said.

If approved by the zoning board, the proposal will go before the full McHenry County Board, which will give residents another opportunity to voice their opposition.