(A)   A solar energy conversion facility equal to or greater than 500 energy facility (facility) kilowatts in total nameplate capacity and that are the primary use of the lot, designed for providing energy to off-site uses or export to the wholesale market require a special use in A-1, A-2, I-1 and I-2 zoning and shall comply with all special use requirements for a Class A special use request, as specified in the Tazewell County Zoning Code.
      (1)   Special use requirements.
         (a)   The facility owner shall follow the requirements for a Class A special use request, as specified in the Tazewell County Zoning Code. All other requirements found herein are not required prior to a request for special use but encouraged if available, however must be submitted and approved prior to issuance of siting permit for all commercial solar energy systems.
         (b)   The County Board shall have final approval of all special use requests for the purpose of siting Solar and related substations and may only be placed in A-1 and, A-2, 1-1 and 1-2 zoning districts.
         (c)   Prior to the public hearing, the facility owner must have entered into the Agricultural Impact Mitigation Agreement required by 55 ILCS 5/5-12020(c). The facility owner's compliance with the AIMA shall be a condition of the special use.
      (2)   A request for special use permit for a commercial solar energy conversion facility or modification of an approved special use permit, shall be approved if the request is in compliance with the standards and conditions imposed in Public Act 102-1123 and conditions imposed under any other state and/or federal statutes and regulations in addition to those specified herein, including consideration of the substantive due process requirements of the Illinois Constitution. sometimes referred to as the LaSalle/Sinclair factors, as follows:
         (a)   The existing uses and zoning of nearby property;
         (b)   The extent to which property values are diminished by the particular zoning restrictions;
         (c)   The extent to which the destruction of property values of plaintiff promotes the health, safety, morals or general welfare of the public;
         (d)   The relative gain to the public as compared to the hardship imposed upon the individual property owner;
         (e)   The suitability of the subject property for the zoned purposed;
         (f)   The length of time the property has been vacant as zoned considered in the context of the land development in the area in the vicinity of the subject property;
         (g)   Whether a comprehensive zoning plan for land use and development existing, and whether the ordinance is in harmony with it; and
         (h)   Whether the community needs the proposed use.
   (B)   The following information shall also be submitted as part of the building permit application:
      (1)   Existing conditions. A site plan with existing conditions showing the following:
         (a)   Existing property lines and property lines extending 100 feet from the exterior boundaries including the names of adjacent property owners and the current use of those properties;
         (b)   Existing public and private roads, showing widths of the road and any associated easements;
         (c)   Location and size of any abandoned wells and sewage treatment systems;
         (d)   Existing buildings and impervious surfaces;
         (e)   A contour map showing topography at two-foot intervals. A contour map of surrounding properties may also be required;
         (f)   Existing vegetation (list type and percent of coverage: such as, cropland/plowed fields, grassland, wooded areas and the like);
         (g)   Any delineated wetland boundaries;
         (h)   A copy of the current FEMA FIRM maps that shows the subject property including the one hundred year floor elevation and any regulated flood protection elevation, if available;
         (i)   Surface water drainage patterns; and
         (j)   The location of any subsurface drainage tiles.
      (2)   Proposed conditions. A site plan of proposed conditions showing the following:
         (a)   Location and spacing of the solar panels;
         (b)   Location of access roads;
         (c)   Location of underground or overhead electric lines connecting the solar farm to a building, substation or other electric load; and
         (d)   New electrical equipment other than at the existing building or substation that is to be the connection point for the solar farm.
      (3)   Fencing and weed/grass control.
         (a)   The applicant shall submit an acceptable pollinator friendly plan for property inside and outside the fenced area for the entire property. The facility owner shall work with SWCD to determine appropriate vegetation for the existing soils. The operating company or successor during the operation of the solar farm shall adhere to the pollinator friendly plan.
         (b)   The facility owner shall provide for weed control in a manner that prevents the spread of weeds. Chemical control, if used, shall be done by an appropriately licensed pesticide applicator.
         (c)   The facility owner shall be responsible for the reimbursement of all reasonable costs incurred by owners of agricultural land where it has been determined by the appropriate state or county entity that weeds have spread from the facility to their property. Reimbursement is contingent upon written notice to the facility owner. Facility owner shall reimburse the property owner within 45 days after notice is received.
         (d)   The facility owner shall ensure that all vegetation growing within the perimeter of the facility is properly and appropriately maintained. Maintenance may include, but not be limited to, mowing, trimming, chemical control, or the use of livestock as agreed to by the landowner.
         (e)   The deconstruction plans must include provisions for the removal of all weed control equipment used in the facility, including weed-control fabrics or other ground covers.
         (f)   A commercial solar energy facility to be sited so that the facility's perimeter is enclosed by fencing having a height of at least seven feet and no more than 25 feet.
         (g)   Perimeter fencing having a maximum height of eight feet shall be installed around the boundary of the solar farm. The fence shall contain appropriate warning signage that is posted such that it is clearly visible on the site.
         (h)   The applicant shall maintain the fence and adhere to the pollinator friendly plan. If the operating company does not adhere to the proposed plan, a fine of $500 per week will be assessed until the operating company or successor complies with the pollinator friendly plan and fencing requirements.
      (4)   Manufactures specifications. The manufacturer’s specifications and recommended installation methods for all major equipment, including solar panels, mounting systems and foundations for poles and racks.
      (5)   Connection and interconnection.
         (a)   A description of the method of connecting the solar array to a building or substation.
         (b)   Utility interconnection details and a copy of written notification to the utility company requesting the proposed interconnection.
      (6)   Setbacks.
         (a)   Occupied community buildings -150 feet from the nearest point on the outside wall of the structure.
         (b)   Nonparticipating dwellings - 150 feet from the nearest point on the outside wall of the structure.
         (c)   Public road rights-of-way - 50 feet from the nearest edge.
         (d)   Boundary lines of nonparticipating property - 50 feet to the nearest point on the property line of the nonparticipating property.
         (e)   The requirements set forth in this division may be waived subject to the written consent of the owner of each affected nonparticipating property.
      (7)   Height. A commercial solar energy facility to be sited so that no component of a solar panel has a height of more than 20 feet above ground when the solar energy facility's arrays are at full tilt.
      (8)   Aviation protection. For solar energy systems located within 500 feet of an airport or within approach zones of an airport, the applicant shall complete and provide the results of the solar glaze hazard analysis tool (SGHAT) for the airport traffic control tower cab and final approach paths, consistent with the Interim Policy, FAA Review of Solar Energy Projects on Federal Obligated Airports, or most recent version adopted by the FAA.
      (9)   Fire protection. The facility owner shall coordinate with the local fire districts by:
         (a)   Submitting to the local fire department(s) a copy of the project site plan;
         (b)   Working cooperatively with the fire district(s) having jurisdiction to develop the fire emergency response plan. The facility owner shall cover the expense of any additional training agreed upon to be necessary by the facility owner and fire district. The facility owner shall, upon approval and prior to building permit issuance, submit the Emergency Response Plan and the contact information of the representative of the fire district(s) who has approved the plan. Nothing in this section shall alleviate the need to comply with all other applicable fire laws and regulations.
      (10)   Endangered species and wetlands. Solar farm developers shall provide the results and recommendation from the consultation with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) through the Department’s online EcoCat Program. Areas reviewed through this process will be endangered species and wetlands. The cost of the EcoCat consultation shall be borne by the developer.
      (11)   Road use agreements. All routes on either a county or township road that will be used for the construction and maintenance purposes shall be identified on the site plan. All routes for either egress or ingress need to be shown. The routing shall be approved subject to the approval of the County Highway Engineer in coordination with the Township Road Commissioners. The solar farm developer shall complete and provide a preconstruction baseline survey to determine existing road conditions for assessing potential future damage due to development related traffic. The development shall provide a road repair plan to ameliorate any and all damage, installation or replacement of roads that might be required by the developer. The developer shall provide a letter of credit or surety bond in an amount and form approved by the highway/road officials when warranted.
      (12)   The facility owner shall provide results of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service's Information for Planning and Consulting environmental review or a comparable successor tool that is consistent with the "U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Land-Based Wind Energy Guidelines."
      (13)   The facility owner shall demonstrate avoidance of protected lands as identified by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the Illinois Nature Preserve Commission or consider the recommendations of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources for setbacks from protected lands, including areas identified by the Illinois Nature Preserve Commission.
      (14)   The facility owner shall provide evidence of consultation with the Illinois State Historic Preservation Office to assess potential impacts on state-registered historic sites under the Illinois State Agency Historic Resources Preservation Act.
      (15)   Noise levels. Noise levels shall be regulated by the Illinois Pollution Control Board rules and regulations and the applicant shall certify that applicant's facility is in compliance with the same.
      (16)   Waste. All solid wastes, whether generated from supplies, equipment parts, packaging, operation or maintenance of the WECS, including old parts and equipment, shall be removed from the site immediately and disposed of in an appropriate manner. All hazardous waste generated by the operation and maintenance of the WECS including, but not limited to, lubricating materials, shall be removed from the site immediately and disposed of in a manner consistent with all local, state, and federal rules and regulations.
      (17)   Drainage tile. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a facility owner with siting approval from a county to construct a commercial wind energy facility is authorized to cross or impact a drainage system, including, but not limited to, drainage tiles, open drainage districts, culverts, and water gathering vaults, owned or under the control of a drainage district under the Illinois Drainage Code without obtaining prior agreement or approval from the drainage district, except that the facility owner shall repair or pay for the repair of any damage to the drainage system, in a manner that assures the tile line's proper operation at the point of repair, caused by the construction or deconstruction of the commercial wind energy facility within a reasonable time after construction of the commercial wind energy facility. The following shall apply to the tile line repair:
         (a)   The facility owner or their designee(s) will work with the landowner to identify the tile lines traversing the property included within the underlying agreement which will be crossed or disturbed by the construction of the facility. All tile lines identified in this manner will be shown on the construction and deconstruction plans and staked or flagged in the locations where expected crossing or disturbance is anticipated prior to construction or deconstruction to alert construction and deconstruction crews to the possible need for tile line repairs.
         (b)   Tile lines that are damaged, cut, or removed shall be staked or flagged placed in such a manner they will remain visible until the permanent repairs are completed. In addition, the location of damaged drain tile lines will be recorded using global positioning systems (GPS) technology.
         (c)   Temporary repair shall be made by the facility owner, their designee or the property owner until such time any of the aforementioned parties can make permanent repairs. If the tile lines are dry and water is not flowing, temporary repairs are not required if the permanent repairs can be made by any of those parties previously mentioned within 14 days (weather and soil conditions permitting) of the time damage occurred: however, the exposed tile lines will be screened or otherwise protected to prevent the entry of foreign materials or animals into the tile lines.
         (d)   Where tile lines are severed by an excavation trench, repairs shall be made using the IDOA Drain Tile Repairs or as to agree to with the landowner.
         (e)   If there is any dispute between the landowner and the facility owner on the method of permanent tile line repair, the appropriate Soil and Water Conservation District's opinion shall be considered by the facility owner and the landowner.
         (f)   To the extent practicable, there will be a minimum of one foot of separation between the tile line and the underground cable whether the underground cable passes over or under the tile line. If the tile line was damaged as part of the excavation for installation of the underground cable, the underground cable will be installed with a minimum one foot clearance under or over the tile line to be repaired or otherwise to the extent practicable.
         (g)   The original tile line alignment and gradient shall be maintained. A laser transit shall be used to ensure the proper gradient is maintained. A laser operated tiling machine shall be used to install or replace tiling segments of 100 linear feet or more unless otherwise agreed to with the landowner.
         (h)   During construction stage, all permanent tile line repairs must be made within 14 days of identification or notification of the damage, weather and soil conditions permitting. At other times, such repairs must be made at a time mutually agreed upon by the facility owner and the landowner.
         (i)   Following construction maintenance and/or decommissioning activities, the facility owner will utilize best practices to restore the drainage in the area to the condition it was before the commencement of the construction/decommissioning activities or those methods agreed to between the landowner and the facility owner. If the landowner and the facility owner cannot agree upon a reasonable method to complete this restoration. The facility owner may - but is not required to - implement the recommendations of the appropriate county SWCD and such implementation would resolve the dispute.
         (j)   Following completion of the work, the facility owner will be responsible for correcting or paying for the correction of all tile line repairs that fail due to construction maintenance and/or decommissioning, provided any such failure was identified by the landowner within 24 months after construction or decommissioning. The facility owner will not be responsible for tile line repairs that the facility owner pays the landowner to perform. The facility owner will not be responsible for tile line repairs that the facility owner pays the landowner to perform.
      (18)   Decommissioning plans and financial assurance of commercial solar energy facilities.
         (a)   Decommissioning of a facility shall include the removal/disposition of all solar related equipment/facilities. including the following utilized for operation of the facility and located on landowner property:
            1.   Solar panels, cells and modules;
            2.   Solar panel mounts and racking, including any helical piles, ground screws. ballasts. or other anchoring systems;
            3.   Solar panel foundations, if used (to depth of five feet);
            4.   Transformers, inverters, energy storage facilities, or substations, including all components and foundations; however, underground cables at a depth of five feet or greater may be left in place;
            5.   Overhead collection system components;
            6.   Operations/maintenance buildings, spare parts buildings and substation/switching gear buildings unless otherwise agreed to by the landowner;
            7.   Access road(s) unless landowner requests in writing that the access road is to remain;
            8.   Operation/maintenance yard/staging area unless otherwise agreed to by the landowner; and
            9.   Debris and litter generated by deconstruction and deconstruction crews.
         (b)   The facility owner shall, at its expense, completely decommission of a facility within 12 months after the end of the useful life of the facility.
         (c)   1.   Prior to issuance of the county building permit, the facility owner shall have the approval of the decommissioning plan and required financial assurance.
            2.   Financial assurance to cover the estimated costs of decommissioning of the commercial solar energy facility shall be at 100% of the cost estimate submitted and approved by the county. Financial assurance shall be made in the form of a surety or like bond and revaluated every four years for economic relevance. Said revaluation must be performed by an independent third party professional engineer licensed in the State of Illinois and provided for review by the county. Should the county find reason to disagree with the revaluation, the county shall retain the services of an additional State of Illinois Licensed Professional Engineer, at the cost of the facility owner. Based on any revaluation, the county may require changes in the level of financial assurance used to calculate the phased coverages. After all available decommissioning funds have been utilized the property owner of record is responsible for any remaining cost to complete the decommissioning plan.
            3.   The financial assurance shall not release the surety from liability until the financial assurance is replaced. The salvage value of the facility may only be used to reduce the estimated costs of decommissioning in the plan if the county agrees that all interests in the salvage value are subordinate or have been subordinated to that of the county if abandonment occurs.
            4.   The county shall require the revaluation of the estimated costs of decommissioning of any commercial solar energy facility following the fourth year of operation and every four years following. for the operational life of the facility.
            5.   Upon abandonment, a period of 12 months following the facility's end of life usefulness, the county may take all appropriate actions for decommissioning, including, drawing upon the financial assurance.
(Ord. LU-17-03, passed 5-31-2017; Res. LU-18-05, passed 4-25-2018; Res. LU-18-21, passed 11-14-2018; Res. LU-23-10, passed 5-31-2023) Penalty, see § 156.99