Will County Gazette

Will County Gazette

Friday, February 21, 2020

Will County Land Use and Development Committee met March 13.

By Lhalie Castillo | Apr 13, 2018

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Will County Land Use and Development Committee met March 13.

Here is the minutes provided by the Committee:

I. Pledge Of Allegiance

Chairman Weigel led the Pledge of Allegiance.

II. Call To Order And Declaration Of Quorum

Chair Tom Weigel called the meeting to order at 10:40 am

Attendee Name; Title; Status; Arrived:

Tom Weigel Chair Present

Judy Ogalla Vice Chair Present

Steve Balich Member Present

Mark Ferry Member Absent

Laurie Summers Member Present

Ray Tuminello Member Present

Denise E. Winfrey Member Present

Six members were present at roll call. A quorum was declared.

Also present were:

Brian Radner, Director of Development Review

Colin Duesing, Planner, Administration and Planning Division

David Dubois, Director of Administration and Planning Division

Janine Farrell, Planner, Development Review Division

Jessica Gal, Planner, Development Review Division

Pat Cline, Secretary, Development Review Division

Samantha Bluemer, Energy & Conservation Specialist, Resource, Recovery & Energy Division

Herbert Brooks, County Board Member District 8 & Democratic Caucus Chair Jim Moustis, County Board Member District 2 & County Board Speaker Ragan Freitag, Chief of Staff

Matt Guzman, Will County State's Attorney's Office Phil Mock, Will County State's Attorney's Office

III. Approval Of Minutes

1. WC Land Use & Development Committee - Regular Meeting - Feb 13, 2018 10:30 AM

The Regular Meeting Minutes of the February 13, 2018 WC Land Use & Development Committee were presented for review and approval.

There were no additions, deletions or corrections.

2. Motion to approve the Regular Meeting Minutes of the February 13, 2018 Will County Land Use & Development Committee as presented.

The minutes were approved unanimously 6-0.

Result: Approved [Unanimous]

Mover: Laurie Summers, Member

Seconder: Steve Balich, Member

Ayes: Weigel, Ogalla, Balich, Summers, Tuminello, Winfrey

Absent: Ferry

3. Land Use Executive Session Minutes 13 FEB 2018


The Executive Session Minutes of the February 13, 2018 WC Land Use & Development Committee were presented for review and approval.

There were no additions, deletions or corrections.

4. Motion to approve the Executive Session Minutes of February 13, 2018 of the WC Land Use & Development Committee as presented.

The motion carried unanimously 6-0.

Result: Approved [Unanimous]

Mover: Denise E. Winfrey, Member

Seconder: Steve Balich, Member

Ayes: Weigel, Ogalla, Balich, Summers, Tuminello, Winfrey

Absent: Ferry

IV. New Business

1.Ordinance Amending the Will County, Illinois Zoning Ordinance Adopted and Approved September 9, 1947 as Amended, for zoning case ZC-17-051, Woodbridge Properties Inc. Peter Galvin, 100% interest, Peter Galvin, Agent, requesting a zoning map amendment (M-17-005) from E-2 to A-1, for PIN # 18- 13-24-300- 008-0000 and 18-13-24-301-011-0000, in Green Garden Township, commonly known as vacant land on south 80th Avenue, Monee, Il

(Janine Farrell)

Chairman Weigel announced Zoning Case ZC-17-051.

Janine Farrell presented the case. Zoning Case ZC-17-051 is a request for map amendment from E-2 to A-1 on a 30.54-acre parcel located on south 80th Avenue, Monee, in Green Garden Township. The applicant, Peter Galvin, is requesting the map amendment to create three (3) A-1 compliant ten (10) acre parcels. The property was zoned to E-2 originally back in 2008 with the intension of creating a subdivision. The applicant cites current economic conditions as the reason for rezoning the property.

The property consists of vacated Lot 8 and a portion of a larger 36 acre parcel known as Woodbridge Estates 2nd Addition. At the February Land Use & Development Committee meeting Lot 8 was vacated and approved. Also, with that 36 acre parcel two and a half acres was divided through a Minor Subdivision at that February Land Use & Development Committee meeting.

Staff handed out a memo stating that Green Garden Township reviewed the case and recommended approval.

There were no objections.

Staff and the Will County Planning and Zoning Commission recommended approval.

2. Motion to approve a map amendment from E-2 to A-1 for Zoning Case ZC-17- 051.

The motion carried unanimously 6-0.

Result: Approved [Unanimous]

Mover: Steve Balich, Member

Seconder: Laurie Summers, Member

Ayes: Weigel, Ogalla, Balich, Summers, Tuminello, Winfrey

Absent: Ferry

3. Ordinance Amending the Will County, Illinois Zoning Ordinance Adopted and Approved September 9, 1947 as Amended for zoning case ZC-17-071 Chanemcoco LLC; Owner of Property; Charlotte Alyce Andres, 100% Beneficiary, Matt Walsh, GreenBerg Farrow , Justin Hardt, Borrego Solar System Inc.; Agents, requesting a (S-17-015) Special use permit for a major public utility, a solar farm facility, for Part of Pin # 22-22-14-300-003-0000, in Washington Township, Commonly known as Vacant property on East Ind

(Jessica Gal)

Chairman Weigel announced Zoning Case ZC-17-071 is a request for a solar farm.

Jessica Gal gave the Committee an update of the request.

Zoning Case ZC-17-071 is located in Washington Township. The request is to build a two megawatt solar farm facility on a vacant 72.83 acre parcel. The proposed solar farm facility would be located on 17 acres of the site.

There were no objectors at the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting. The PZC recommended approval of the request with 14 staff recommended conditions with a vote of 5-0.

An email was sent to Committee members from staff with comments from Greenberg Farrow and Borrego Solar in regards to a couple of those conditions related to landscaping and the utility lines. Staff has reviewed the diagrams they submitted. Staff feels those conditions accurately reflect their intent and staff's intention when they wrote those conditions. The landscaping would follow the perimeter of the solar farm development, which includes the arrays and equipment, not necessarily the parcel boundary or the boundary of the special use area.

Their comments in that letter do reflect the intentions of those conditions. Staff does not feel they need to be modified.

Judy Ogalla asked Jessica to go over that email briefly.

Jessica stated they sent a letter with two attachments where they took their site plan and added landscaping to reflect what their intentions are. Jessica read Condition Number 5 states, "5. Along the southern boundary of the project site, a landscaped area at least ten (10) feet in width with at least one (1) shrub per five (5) linear feet, plus at least one (1) evergreen tree per twenty-five (25) linear feet of perimeter area must be provided.

Jessica said it's interpreted that the southern boundary of that site would be just outside the solar panel area and doesn't necessarily mean right along the road frontage. There was a discussion at the Planning and Zoning Commission as to how this is going to be interpreted, "Is it supposed to be along the road frontage? Is it along the solar panel area? Is it along the fence?"

Jessica stated our intent is also what the developer wants and staff feels the language doesn't need to be changed. Jessica showed the site plans to the Committee members. If the developer feels the conditions are not clear staff can make those changes based on the Committee's recommendation but staff does feel it states around the perimeter of the project site.

Chairman Weigel said I did receive those emails and I agree that our intent is to have the landscaping around the perimeter so if they want it outside the fence, that's fine.

Jessica stated the second issue they had was with the utility lines. The condition staff has specifically reads, "8. On-site power lines and utility connections must be placed underground except where necessary to connect to existing overhead utility lines." The site plan that they showed does show that the utility lines will be underground until it reaches closer to the street where there will be a pole so that it can connect to the utility line. In looking at that site plan staff felt that condition would be met.

Matt Walsh from GreenBerg Farrow and Justin Hardt from Borrego Solar introduced themselves.

Matt Walsh stated they have three cases up today. Two of them are right across the street from one another on Indiana Avenue. This first case is the north site. All the projects are similar in their components. GreenBerg Farrow are the engineers helping with permitting on these projects. Borrego Solar is an experienced developer in solar across the US. Their Midwest office is in Chicago. Borrego specializes in construction development, site plans, building the systems and doing all the due diligence.

Their focus is mainly on commercial solar but they also do community solar. Once they have an interested landowner to lease a piece of their property they look at the area where the landowner wants the solar to be and then they validate that area by doing many different tests.

Those tests include archaeological phase one, native species, wetlands, topography. There are a lot of different tests that validate yes we can build in this area.

Matt Walsh apologized for not reaching out to Board Members specifically. However, Borrego gave a presentation for the full Board a few months ago giving them an overview of the program.

The applicants met with the Washington Township, the Village of Beecher and the Beecher Fire Protection District. They have had four public hearings on this. One with the Village of Beecher, two with Washington Township and one with the previous Planning and Zoning Commission meeting. They received unanimous approval from everybody after each one of these. Some of those had conditions that were provided to staff and are incorporated into staff's conditions.

This project is located just east of the Village of Beecher just east of the intersection of Indiana Avenue and Cottage Grove. They will be exceeding all setbacks and no variances are requested at this point. They have been working with Will County Department of Transportation with permitting for the driveway. There will probably be some right-of-way dedications associated with this project.

Ray Tuminello asked how many acres was the other project that was approved?

Staff said it was over in Crete and that it was about forty-two acres.

Jessica Gal said I think it was a bigger megawatt system than anticipated. During the public hearing they indicated they probably wouldn't put in that kind of system. Jessica thought it was five but they ended up putting in a two megawatt system.

Chairman Weigel said I believe it was two for the previous system.

There is a nearby house that is approximately 1300 feet away but there is a large wetland area with a lot of trees around it that buffer this area and this particular residential property. They feel there is adequate screening on the western side with the existing landscaping. This project will comply with frontage landscaping once they reach the permitting stage if that condition is not revised.

The system will be set on i-beams that will either be screwed in or driven into the ground. There is no concrete associated with them at this point. Geotech Consultants have advised them on this. All proposed systems are driven into the ground. That makes it easier to remove the racking system. The modules or solar panels will stand on the racking system at a maximum tilt of seven plus or minus feet.

There is a seven foot chain link fence around the perimeter of the system. The panels rotate with the sun. At noon they will be flat so approximately four and a half feet tall. These are low impact systems visually. The transformer is approximately six and a half feet tall. It's located right at the center of the site.

The driveway is proposed at fourteen feet but the Fire Department prefers eighteen feet which the applicants state they will comply with once they enter the permitting stage.

The seven foot chain link fence has no barbed wire. There is very little grading associated with this project. They try to keep the ground the way it is and work with the contours.

As far as runoff there are existing row crops that create a lot more runoff then what is proposed.

A drain tile study is being prepared and if any drain tiles are impacted they will be replaced or repaired.

Letters of no objection have been received from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), Illinois Historic Preservation Agency (IHPA) and they are expecting a letter of no objection to come back from the Army Corps of Engineers. The facility is considered temporary and once the term of the lease is up the land can be returned back to agricultural production quite easily. The only piece of concrete is under the transformer at the end of the driveway by the access drive. That concrete can easily be removed once the project is de-commissioned.

Matt Walsh stated there are approximately 230,000 acres of farmland in this County and this project will take up less than one (1) one hundredth of a percent of that land. So it's not a lot of impact on the farmland in agricultural production.

Pictures of what the transformer and equipment will look like were provided.

One to two trucks make deliveries a day during construction. During that period the maximum truck weight is 80,000 pounds which is a typical semi.

Once the project is up and running it is remotely monitored. There are an anticipated three to four trips a year for mowing and equipment maintenance at the site. There are no pesticides or herbicides to be used at the site. The only noise expected is during construction and once completed the only noise could be compared to that of rustling leaves.

Matt Walsh stated during the last meeting they had with the Planning and Zoning Commission it was indicated that the County does not want to become involved in the bonding of these projects so they have addressed it in the lease agreement to staff with their initial submission that shows there's a commitment with Borrego to the landlord that this is to be removed and provides means for legal recourse if that doesn't happen.

Mr. Walsh stated there is very little noise with these projects. They have no effect on property values. They increase tax revenue. They have no impact on schools or libraries. After construction very little traffic is generated from these sites. Taxing bodies benefits. Studies done of these sites show they have very little impact on surrounding properties.

Mr. Walsh asked if the condition regarding landscaping and the condition regarding the overhead power lines might be clarified since there were questions at the Planning and Zoning Commission. They are a necessary connection to the ComEd Grid.

Ray Tuminello asked is this a completely different system from the last one we looked at?

Matt Walsh didn't know what supplier the other ones used but from the ground to the bottom of the panel it's thirty-two inches and at full tilt it's seven feet.

Ray Tuminello expressed his concerns that while these are a state subsidized program right now he is concerned there is going to be an influx of these systems and they may have a negative impact on productive farmland.

Samantha Bluemer stated she is not aware of a limit on how many of these might be approved. Some of these projects may not get approval from ComEd or circumstances may change. All of the projects that actually get approved may not necessarily be built.

Board Member Steve Balich asked when the state subsidized tax incentives dry up and go away then what? Are these going to have to be de-commissioned then?

Samantha Bluemer said the tax incentives are not from taxpayer funds they are from line items on utility bills.

Steve Balich said whether it comes from the taxpayer's dollars or the utility bills the taxpayers still have to pay them.

Samantha said all the contracts are fifteen year contracts with the utility so that does commit them to be producing for fifteen years at minimum if they are going to accept the incentives.

Matt Walsh said the state and the federal government has put some incentives in place. That is called an adjustable block program so the incentive actually starts decreasing after a certain amount of capacity is filled in a certain block.

Matt Walsh talked about the Illinois Energy Jobs Act which was initiated to help create jobs and assist sustainability by having more renewable energies spread around into different areas around the state.

Laurie Summers asked Matt Walsh if they are eligible for a tiff?

Matt Walsh was not familiar with that term so he was not sure.

Ray Tuminello said he's only going to vote for so many of these.

Judy Ogalla said so when we are approving these special use permits is it her understanding that these have not been approved by ComEd yet?

Matt Walsh said there are three different types of studies that they have to go through. The second study gives you an approximate fee but the last one is the actual fee so they are basing their economics on that second study. Before you can actually receive the state dollars to build one of these systems you have to have all the permits in hand.

Brian Radner said a special use permit once it is approved only has one year period that it is valid and if they don't act on it within that first year they can ask for a 180 day extension. So that's kind of a way of tracking to see where we're at. If we don't hear from them in about 10 to 11 months then we contact them and say hey do you want to extend this permit? Then they will have to go through that process and they can only have two 180 day extension periods and then it's not valid, at all. If they don't follow up, then we'll let the Committee know.

Jim Moustis asked if they can make that special use permit contingent on the fact that they get all other permits that are required?

Brian Radner said if the Committee wanted to add that as a condition they could.

Justin Hardt said he would caution that just for the fact to receive the funding necessary to build this and pull all the necessary permits you will have to have all your necessary permits in hand.

Jim Moustis asked do they actually have to have a de-commissioning plan that goes along with this?

Samantha said they do have to submit a de-commissioning plan. Part of the benefit of us having that is that for any reason we had to de-commission as the County we would know exactly what it presently costs and procedures. They wouldn't get their permit if they didn't get their interconnection agreement.

Matt Walsh said they would start construction probably after crop season so that would put them into September or October. That would put them out six months before they could even start construction so that's why he would caution that.

Samantha said it's a matter of timing and in order for them to get financing and in order for them to get the other permits through ComEd they are usually required to hold the special use permit.

Laura Summers asked the applicant in order for you to get your financing, in order for you to get the okay from ComEd to take the energy that you would produce you have to have the special use permit in hand before they'll even look at you? If they get none of the above the project is not going to take place. Laymen's terms I know but that's what I'm hearing.

Matt Walsh said that's correct.

Judy Ogalla noted the applicants had to get into a bid pool. She asked the applicants if they knew when the next one is coming out?

Justin said these are two separate programs that you mentioned. One is an auction based program. This is not. It's an adjustable block program. The price is set. Basically, you know the price. You are just bidding your project.

There were no objectors.

Chairman Weigel asked the applicant do you want us to amend our conditions?

JIm Moustis said he doesn't want to do something that will prevent them from going forward or hold them up but he also wants to protect the residents of the County.

Chairman Weigel said we know the special use permit is going to expire if they don't do it so that's going to be a limiting factor.

Moustis said that's true. We don't have to extend it by the way.

Justin Hardt stated if a body decides this use is not appropriate at this site then the permits that would have been needed really aren't relevant so really this is important to be one of the first stops to determine if the County feels solar is appropriate for this particular parcel. If that is passed then we can follow the rest of the steps to get more permits.

Judy Ogalla asked so when does the lease with the landowner begin? Like you're saying you wouldn't start anything until the fall after the harvest is done so the crops that are planted now will be harvested.

Justin Hardt stated when construction starts. He talked about an expensive test that is usually done after the crops are planted so there is a clause in the agreement for crop compensation. They have eighteen months after they receive the allocation with the state that they have to build the system.

4. Motion to approve a special use permit for a major public utility, a solar farm facility for Zoning Case ZC-17-071 with fourteen (14) conditions.

The motion carried unanimously 6-0.

Result: Approved [Unanimous]

Mover: Denise E. Winfrey, Member

Seconder: Steve Balich, Member

Ayes: Weigel, Ogalla, Balich, Summers, Tuminello, Winfrey

Absent: Ferry

5. Ordinance Amending the Will County, Illinois Zoning Ordinance Adopted and Approved September 9, 1947 as Amended ZC-17-072, Chanemcoco LLC; Owner of Property; Charlotte Alyce Andres, 100% Beneficiary, Matt Walsh, GreenBerg Farrow , Justin Hardt, Borrego Solar System Inc.; Agents, requesting a (S-17-016) Special use permit for a major public utility, a solar farm facility, for Part of Pin # 22-22-23-100-001-0000, in Washington Township, Commonly known as Vacant property on East Indiana Avenue, Be

(Jessica Gal)

Chairman Weigel asked Jessica from staff to open discussion of the case.

Jessica Gal stated that Zoning Case ZC-17-072 is just south of Zoning Case ZC-17- 071. The actual solar farm will be located on 17.52 acres of a 117.40 acre site. This case has one additional condition because there are residences to the southwest so staff is requesting additional landscaping along the fence line on that side.

There were no objectors at the public hearing.

On-site power lines and utility connections will be placed underground except where necessary to connect to existing overhead utility lines.

The Planning and Zoning Commission recommended approval of the special use permit with fifteen (15) staff recommended conditions.

6. Motion to approve a special use permit for a major public utility, a solar farm facility for Zoning Case ZC-17-072 with fifteen (15) staff recommended conditions.

The motion carried unanimously 6-0.

Result: Approved [Unanimous]

Mover: Denise E. Winfrey, Member

Seconder: Steve Balich, Member

Ayes: Weigel, Ogalla, Balich, Summers, Tuminello, Winfrey

Absent: Ferry

7. Ordinance Amending the Will County, Illinois Zoning Ordinance Adopted and Approved September 9, 1947 as Amended, for zoning case ZC-18-002, Manhattan Farm, LLC; Joyal Akkawi, 100% interest, Matt Walsh, Greenberg Farrow, Agent , Justin Hardt, Borrego Solar System Inc. , requesting (S-18-001) special use permit for a major public utility for a solar farm facility, for PIN # 14- 12-32-300-009-0000, in Manhattan Township, commonly known as 27555 S. Gougar Road, Manhattan, Il

(Janine Farrell)

Chairman Weigel asked Janine Farrell from staff to open discussion of the case.

Janine stated Zoning Case ZC-18-002 is similar to the cases that Jes just presented but this one takes place in Manhattan Township. The parcel is 74.33 acres total. The special use area is 14.87 acres. The parcel is bordered by residential property directly to the south.

Staff conditions address landscaping that borders the residential areas and also the road.

Staff recommended approval with fourteen (14) conditions.

The Planning and Zoning Commission recommended approval with those fourteen (14) conditions.

There were no objectors to this case but the Manhattan Township Supervisor attended the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting and he spoke about the Township meetings they had regarding this proposal.

A memo was received from Matt Walsh regarding the landscaping and utilities. Staff is requesting landscaping around the project site so they feel they are on par with what the developer is asking for.

However, this site is a little different in regards to condition number eight with the underground versus above ground utility lines. This site has a pipeline so the applicant would like the entirety to be above ground due to that underground pipeline. They cannot run those underground utility lines due to the pipeline. Staff did mention this to the Planning & Zoning Commission but they did not amend or change this condition. Janine told the Committee they could amend or totally remove condition number eight at their discretion.

Judy Ogalla asked what township is this in?

Janine said Manhattan.

Judy Ogalla said so Jim this is in your area.

Jim Moustis said yes. This is my area.

Chairman Tom Weigel didn't have a problem amending condition number eight if it's going to disrupt the pipeline.

Jim Moustis said I could tell you this may be a site you shouldn't have selected. Why should we have to change our Ordinance because they selected the wrong site? What about the concerns of Manhattan Township? Did we address those concerns? Were there changes made to address their concerns?

Janine said the Manhattan Township Supervisor came and spoke about the letter that was submitted and that was included as a memo as part of your packet with staff's report. Janine referred to the second bullet point in her memo that states, "That a financial guarantee of decommissioning of this project, whenever it becomes necessary, will be approved by the Will County State's Attorney's office."

Janine stated this is something that the County Board did not want to put any kind of surety bond into the Zoning Ordinance update. The applicants are not being required to put up any kind of a bond for decommissioning. That would be the one issue that was left outstanding because it was not the County Board's desire to do that. The Planning and Zoning Commission did not add it in as a condition.

Chairman Weigel asked the applicant can you explain where the pipeline is and where you need to change the wiring?

Justin Hardt said there are three pipelines on this property. There's one to the northwest corner but I don't think it's been identified. That one is Buckeye Pipeline. They received a letter from them of no objection. They're fine with it. There is one to the far east running north/south. They received a letter of no objection from that pipeline, as well. The one that is of concern and the reason why they are asking for amendment of condition number eight is the one indicated on the map and that is owned by BP. The area available for location of the system is limited due to wetlands and pipelines located on the site.

Chairman Weigel said so your lines will be underground until they get to the road along the driveway where they have to be above ground to connect to ComEd's overhead lines. That's what you're asking for.

Justin Hardt stated that's correct.

Chairman Weigel said I don't see a problem with allowing overhead lines along the driveway. Does anybody else on the Committee have a problem with that?

Ray Tuminello said it seems like we're trying to shoehorn this in here. He was concerned because they just heard three of these and he's afraid they're going to be popping up all over. He doesn't think this is the best site to have one of these.

Justin Hardt said it's really how many sub-stations Will County has and the type of lines. These are a unique type of lines. They have to be three phase lines. They have to be in proximity to a sub-station so that limits the scope.

Steve Balich agreed with Mr. Moustis. If the companies are going to select sites they should make sure they're going along with what the County is already saying. So if we keep making exceptions so they can get their incentives what's the point in them coming here. We might as well just tell them to go ahead and do it. So I'm going to be a no on this.

Board Member Laurie Summers asked Justin Hardt do you select the sites or do the landowners reach out to you?

Justin Hardt said both but more than likely it's the landowner reaching out to us.

Judy Ogalla said so the landowners reach out to you? Don't you guys send landowners letters? So you send out letters to landowners in a wide area and then those that are interested come to you?

Justin stated that's correct. That's one method. We had better success on a referral basis.

Judy Ogalla said so a lot of times the property owner isn't farming the land and has a tenant farmer farming the land and the solar farm might pay the property owner more than what the tenant farmer would pay. The property owner doesn't care. The question comes up to how many solar farms do we want popping up all over Will County.

Denise Winfrey said unless ComEd feels there's a need for that power to be put to the grid and there's a transformer near there you won't get approval.

Justin Hardt said that's correct. If it's too far or the energy is overloading that circuit that would prohibit us from building. That would be one of the two requirements to receive state funding. Mr. Hardt stated there are only so many incentives available. Almost every County within ComEd's territory is going through this, as well. As far as our experience this is not one of the community's that's getting the most applications at this point. As I understand it this is the fourth project that's been presented to you. You'll probably see a lot of these solar farms over the next couple of months and then once the incentives are all used up you might want to consider the benefits to the community and trying to get as many as you can as long as they are available.

Steve Balich said they've been talking about the building code for the last eight months but this is something different to me and I'm frustrated.

Laurie Summers said first of all it's the owner's decision to put the solar farm there. For me as I watch all the farmland and I grew up there you guys I would want everything to go back to the way it was and if that was the case my dad would still be alive. That's not how it works. These families are dividing these farms down because the kids, most of them Judy, do not want to farm it. I would rather see them do something like this then for them to sell it, put up a subdivision or pave over it. This can be returned to farmland when it's all said and done if that's what they choose to do so you really aren't losing the farmland. To me we're saving it by doing this.

Judy Ogalla agreed with Laurie that a solar farm is better than having an intermodal facility.

Ray Tuminello talked about sites being selected that might be more suitable for this type of use.

Mr. Moustis said our decision should not be based on what's most economically advantageous to the developer. O would be reluctant to give them any additional, special considerations. As far as the development of these type of facilities, this is a property rights issue for me and I don't think we should tell property owners what they can do with their property. So I would say be cautious with that. I can tell you that I can take four houses in my district that take up more farmland than what they're going to take up with this solar. You picked the site. Deal with it and don't expect us to change our ordinance or give you special consideration.

Janine Farrell said we do have three special use permits coming our way that were submitted in the last couple of weeks so you will be seeing more of these. We have three that are in District 1.

Chairman Weigel said this particular site, they show wetlands and what have you. We don't really know if that is prime farmland or not. Does the guy actually farm that or maybe he's trying to get rid of it or get some kind of revenue from it. So I don't think we can necessarily say they are taking up prime farmland.

Justin Hardt asked staff to outline this submission and when the Ordinance, the current form, came into effect so that the Committee understands that these conditions were new to us as we presented to the Commission last week?

Janine Farrell said sure. So the Zoning Ordinance Update took effect on January 18th of this year. So your proposals were submitted under the prior Ordinance but all of your conditions basically reflect what is in the Ordinance Update. They made sure that the conditions were there to address anything that may not have been received at time of submission that we would now require at time of submission. So we're not holding these proposals to any different standard than subsequent proposals that we would have received after the Zoning Ordinance Update.

Justin Hardt said there were no rules in effect at the time they submitted their proposal so we're not asking for relief from conditions we had known about previously. They were added to the project after we had submitted.

Chairman Weigel asked Justin Hardt if you had to put that power lines underneath the pipeline or next to the pipeline how much additional would that cost?

Justin Hardt said it's not necessarily cost. BP's recommendation on a safety level and if you did end up deciding to go underground it would be encased in concrete. It started as a safety issue and then it got technical with BP. It was one of those things that BP recommended they do above ground.

Chairman Weigel asked so the pipeline preferred it be above ground?

Justin Hardt said that is correct.

Chairman Weigel said I'd entertain a motion to amend condition number eight to allow overhead lines over the pipeline.

8. Motion to amend condition number eight to allow overhead lines over the pipeline.

The motion failed with a vote of 3-3.

Matt Guzman said the motion failed because there was no majority.

Result: Defeated [3 To 3]

Mover: Laurie Summers, Member

Seconder: Denise E. Winfrey, Member

Ayes: Weigel, Summers, Winfrey

Nays: Ogalla, Balich, Tuminello

Absent: Ferry

9. Motion to approve a special use permit for a major utility/solar farm facility for Zoning Case ZC-18-002 with fourteen (14) staff recommended conditions.

Roll Call Vote: Weigel, Ogalla, Balich, Summers and Winfrey voted "yes." Tuminello voted "no." The motion carried 5-1.

Chairman Weigel asked the petitioner do you want us to bring it to the full Board about the overhead lining to see if they would be in favor of it?

Justin Hardt responded yes.

Result: Approved [5 To 1]

Mover: Denise E. Winfrey, Member

Seconder: Laurie Summers, Member

Ayes: Weigel, Ogalla, Balich, Summers, Winfrey

Nays: Tuminello

Absent: Ferry

V. Other Business

VI. Reports, Communications, Correspondence

1. Chairman, Will County Land Use and Development Committee

2. Committee Members, Will County Land Use and Development Committee

Board Member Balich talked about a gentleman from New Lenox that wanted to pay his fine ahead of time instead of going to adjudication and nobody would take his money. Mr. Balich asked did we do anything to change our format so a person could pay the fine ahead of time, mailing a check or whatever, instead of going to adjudication?

David Dubois said that concern was acknowledged and forwarded on to our Community Development Division to work with the Adjudication Office and David said he would follow up on that and report back to the Committee next month on the status.

Board Member Balich said and the other one was the case that we did on 167th and Gougar in Mr. Balich's district and Mike Fricilone's district regarding the flooding. Mr. Balich said it seemed like it was going to come to a resolution but he wanted to make sure the man called the department to make sure that it's moving forward and that it was all settled.

David Dubois said there was limited discussion because it was in litigation but I can tell you there is a meeting today regarding that.

Steve Balich said he sent Tom and Jim an email about floodplains. He doesn't quite understand it but the contractor wanted to know why, according to federal law you're allowed only to build fifty percent of a house that's destroyed in a floodplain and then it's up to the government to set whether it's a year, three years or forever to improve the house, again? Our boss said it's forever. Mr. Balich said why don't we have it at one or three years when the feds say we can have it at one, three or forever? Mr. Balich asked if somebody could explain that because he's confused on that.

Brian Radner said yes I did get that email and I responded to you yesterday. The department was able to issue the permit in this situation. The applicant met the guidelines that are outlined in the Countywide Stormwater Ordinance and submitted appraised value that indicated the value of the project that they were looking to do improvement for fell under that fifty percent rule. That comes out of the Countywide Stormwater Ordinance which I believe was adopted some time in the mid-1990's. That Ordinance came from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Model Ordinance so all of the surrounding counties, Chicagoland counties adopted that Ordinance and they all include language of what they call a cumulative period for improvements and damage that limits it to fifty percent. The way that it's worded in the Countywide Stormwater Ordinance is an indefinite period of time. If the Board felt they would like to look at a different number that would require the Countywide Stormwater Ordinance to be changed. It isn't only adopted by the County but also by all the municipalities in the County. It's something we could look at but it would be quite a project to get everybody in Will County to change that.

Brian Radner said it's true. FEMA does say it could be five, ten, fifteen, twenty; it could be whatever period they set. Brian found examples in other jurisdictions that might do five years or ten years or the life of the structure itself so you can come up with a different number. You just have to remember that every time there is a loss there is a cost to the taxpayers. There is associated cost with flooding activities that aren't covered by FEMA Flood Insurance that the County may bear. So every time there is a loss in that floodplain there is a cost to the taxpayers by the federal government. You can change it if you want to but there are reasons not to.

Board Member Balich said he just wanted to know.

Board Member Balich stated he did some research and he got the statute from his friend, an attorney with the State of Illinois. Mr. Balich said he was under the impression that people could sue us for not doing permits but at the same time we're immune. He gave everybody a copy of the statute and he talked to Phil and Phil said yes. That's correct. We have sovereign immunity as a government entity. But anybody can sue anybody.

Mr. Balich pointed out it says here that we don't have to enforce any building codes even though they're on our books. It says if we go out and inspect something and we inspect it wrong we're still not liable. According to the statute we might get sued but we're not going to lose.

Mr. Balich talked about a lawsuit in 2003 where peoples porches collapsed and sued the City of Chicago and it turned out in 2007 the court ruled that the City was not liable.

Mr. Balich said he brought up last month other places like Chicago and the City of Lockport exempting certain repair items (maintenance items) from permit requirement. The state says they don't enforce plumbing repairs on maintenance items. They also said we don't have the right inspector for plumbing and they do not encourage us to ever get one. Mr. Balich said the reason for that is if we had the right one then we could turn around and create an ordinance where we could impose all that stuff. Right now, legally, we don't even have the right to impose all that stuff. Mr. Balich asked Gideon to do some research in other municipalities, counties, cities that are looking at their codes for repair and maintenance. Mr. Balich said there are other jurisdictions changing their ordinances to exempt the things he is talking about.

Gideon Bluestein from the Illinois Realtors Association spoke to the Committee. He reached out to municipalities in Will County to get a sense of where they do enforce permit inspection on different maintenance issues. The big one that seems to be exempt is siding repair and also window replacements when there is no change in size and doors as long as there is no change in size. Mr. Bluestein will share the list once it is complete. The County does have the authority to make those decisions based on what you think is best for the taxpayers.

Mr. Balich asked do we want to have Land Use talk about the ones we did approve already or do we want to talk about the plumbing ones that we want to exempt?

Chairman Weigel asked staff do you have the three items you were going to research and see about changing the language on those?

David Dubois stated they are still working on those items. They have been preoccupied with the open permits issue. They hope to have that soon but they are not prepared to discuss them at this time.

Chairman Weigel asked staff do you have any comments concerning Mr. Balich's comments about not having any plumbing permits?

Mr. Balich said for repair and maintenance.

David Dubois said they don't have any comment on that. We will review that as necessary.

The Chairman asked the State's Attorney's representative do you have any comment on that?

Phil Mock said it would cause a change in our Ordinance. That's something we can look at.

The Chairman asked Mr. Balich to write down the exact changes he wants in the Ordinance and bring it to the Committee and they can make a recommendation to staff to revise it.

Mr. Balich said I am talking about repair and maintenance items just to be clear. Like shut off valves if you're replacing your sink or the traps. Things that people normally do anyway. He asked the Chairman if he could put it on the agenda as an agenda item?

The Chairman said he has been waiting for staff to bring back the recommendation and language they want to put in the Ordinance before we get it on the agenda. If you have any specific items you need to put it in writing not just verbally.

Steve Balich said the State of Illinois just says minor repairs. So I'm saying the same thing. We should exempt just minor repairs. That doesn't mean building a whole new building.

David Dubois said I think it's clear the Committee's direction that was given to the department and staff. We will follow up on it and we have all of Mr. Balich's submissions and when we go through and do the research we will present it to the Committee and take the Committee's initial direction on what they desire.

3. Director, Will County Land Use Department

4. Other

Ray Tuminello asked for an update on the open permits. This is not sitting right with him and he thinks it's created something that should not have been created and he thinks the leins should be removed from those individual's properties.

Steve Balich agreed with Ray.

David Dubois stated with regard to the recordings that have occurred they were notices of violation. There were no leins recorded against the properties. It was just a notice on the deed that there is an open violation with the County. As late as yesterday they had an internal meeting with Chief of Staff of the County Board as well as Chief of Staff from the Executive's Office to review the matter and they are proceeding with that to try and find a resolution to the matter. They are going to be reviewing the work permits, see where there's been a transition in ownership, what type of permits they were. They are looking at alternatives to go forward on permits that have yet to be closed. Currently, they are calling people about a month before the permit is due to expire. There were only a handful of 2017 permits that were not actually closed so those numbers have drastically been reduced.

Board Member Jim Moustis thinks these notices of violation should be removed from these deeds and a determination made of how to move forward to resolve the issue. These notices of violation should have been a last resort and putting these notices of violation on people's deeds should have been brought to the Committee's attention. A lot of people don't know about this notice of violation until they go to sell their house and it comes up. We should try to get people to comply first before we do something like this. Mr. Moustis asked Phil Mock can we pass something at the Board level removing these notices that have been put on by the Land Use and then if the State's Attorney's Office wants to put them on we'll leave that up to you.

Phil Mock said you could pass a resolution to have them removed but if you want to do that you could pass a resolution to just say they're all forgiven. If you don't want to have mechanisms to enforce our ordinances you don't have to. That is a policy decision to make but Mr. Mock pointed out that the ones that got these notices were notified first that it could happen. They've already been notified and don't just find out when they go to try and sell. The date they got recorded the Recorder of Deeds sent them all a notice and this is the five percent (5%) that didn't do this. We got approximately 398 left and it was over 4,000 when we started and everybody else came into compliance.

Jim Moustis found that amazing.

Phil Mock asked staff what was the actual number?

Brian Radner said 3,500.

Mr. Moustis said I find that extraordinary if there's that many out there that's our failure.

Phil Mock said and that's why we're addressing this going forward that this will never happen again. The issue is in preventing it in the future. That is already in the process. What we are trying to figure out is what to do with the almost 400 we have out there and we're working on it. We have the Treasurer's Office researching to differentiate between who was the original property owner that still owns the property versus if there was a sale or not. We envisioned and discussed that we would handle them in two separate manners. It's already been informed to these people that while the policy is to get another inspection at no cost we're not trying to economically hurt them. We just want to make sure that our housing stock is up to snuff. That nobody is hurt by it. We have some issues involving swimming pools were they to add electricity and they weren't wired right somebody could die or were they not to have a fence around it a child could fall in and drown. We have issues that involved possibly water heaters and or furnaces where carbon monoxide could build up if they weren't vented properly. These are actual life and safety issues.

Phil Mock said we are trying to determine that so we are trying to make the problem go away. We don't imagine these notice of violations will stay on their books very long because whoever doesn't come into compliance my recommendation, the State's Attorney's Office is going to take them to court to force them into compliance because we have to get them into compliance to maintain our housing stock and the safety of our citizens is taken care of.

Mr. Moustis said I understand what you're saying except when you say we don't have to have any enforcement. That's not the intent here. The intent is to treat people in a fair manner and I agree. All these outstanding permits that did not receive final inspections need to be taken care of. Of course I think we can prioritize those.

Phil Mock said we are in the process of taking the more serious ones first.

Mr. Moustis said those certainly should be pursued. I'm not so sure some of these should not have been pursued by the State's Attorney's Office in the beginning. If it were the State's Attorney's Office some of them might of taken this more seriously. Mr. Moustis agreed with Mr. Mock if it does involve a life/safety issue those should be taken more seriously. Maybe for some of those that aren't so serious we might be a little more flexible because a lot of these people are working. I think there's more we can do. It's their responsibility to call in for the final inspection. New homeowners may not be aware and assumed contractors have taken care of it.

Ragan Freitag stated I know this has been discussed at a previous committee meeting at Executive and I gave you all some numbers.

Ragan Freitag stated she wants the facts and the exact numbers for the Committee. Nick and I have been working on this for you daily. They met for about an hour yesterday. Phil and Mary Tatroe were in the meeting, too.

What you have to understand is that forty-two (42) of them are open code enforcement issues that could be safety issues. There are two Resource and Recovery issues dealing with the IEPA. There's one site development issue. There are issues that we can't just waive and I would caution you against something like that. We keep digging deeper and deeper for you. As Phil stated Brian Radner has already given that 398 notice number to the Treasurer's Office and we talked about that yesterday. Just this morning I saw Brian McDaniel. I followed up with him and I asked him please, please can I get that number by the end of this week for you. I want the exact number and hopefully I'll have that number by the end of this week. Whether it's the current owner that took that permit out or whether there was a transfer of ownership. I think that's the number that you are all looking for. So I wanted you to know we are working diligently on this. If you have any questions or you want to come to any of these meetings, Tom Weigel and Herb Brooks did attend the meeting yesterday, rather not just staff. I had some County Board Members there.

Ray Tuminello asked didn't we just close anything prior to 2011?

Brian Radner said if you recall Mike did an update on this exact process September of last year. At that point it was previously determined by the State's Attorney's Office that they were going to focus on the years from 2011 through 2015. At that point our 2016 permits were still open because you could have a permit and have it extended so those weren't included. Everything before 2010 it's still open and we may have recorded a notice at some time in the past but those permits were just going to remain open. They were going to deal with them as people came in to the office to get a new building permit. We wouldn't issue a new building permit until they closed the old one. That's how they were going to deal with it. That's what they determined it at the time. They thought it was fair to look at the 2011 through the 2015's and see if we could work with them to close out their permits through the process. That involved the notices on the property if they did not respond.

Ray Tuminello said just for clarification and just so I understand on 2011 to 2015 any open building permit that wasn't satisfied we put the notice on their property.

Brian Radner said after contacting them and giving them an opportunity to contact the department to close the permit at no cost, no inspection cost, no fines. We're not looking for fines in any of these situations. Then notices were recorded about a month later if we didn't get a response. The Recorder generated a notice saying that this notice of violation has been recorded, you need to contact the department to have it removed. So this is the second notice.

Mr. Tuminello said I understand that so it's 2011 to 2015. Prior to that even though we've heard about the life/safety issues we're not worried about those people.

Brian Radner said at that point they made the decision we're not going to record a notice. What we're going to do is wait until they come into the office and apply for another permit for something and deal with the problem at that point.

Ray Tuminello asked why didn't we do that for 2011 through 2015?

Brian Radner stated I can't speculate. I didn't make that decision. The only thing that I do recall is that there was a better chance that they may still be working with the same property owner or that it's fresher in their mind maybe this had happened. That was the thought at the time. They had reached the conclusion that was how they were going to approach it after discussing it with the State's Attorney's Office on how to handle the matter. So those people before 2010 and before, they still have an open permit and it still needs to be resolved, it was just that they made the decision they weren't going to record a notice on the property.

Judy Ogalla said so they may not know they have an open permit?

Brian Radner said they may not. Just so you know the process of recording a violation notice, just a notice, not a lein, on property started in 2010 and before that the County did not do that. They took everybody to court. That was how they used to do it. So from 2010 through 2016 there are some notices during that period that have been recorded that go back as many as fifteen years. I think I saw a 2002 permit in there so sixteen years.

Phil Mock said the process has been improved to prevent this from happening again, number one and number two, said he would encourage County Board members to look at that letter if they haven't already done so. Phil said he has had a chance to review it and it is not a threatening letter. It's telling them what the situation is and it uses please and thank-you in it. It's not threatening in any way. The other issue is we want to send another letter to let these people know and remind them that if they call in and get this inspection there is no added cost. The only added cost is if they took out the permit and didn't do the work or didn't do it correctly then there would be a cost. But that's their responsibility. So there's no added County cost to get the final inspection and clean the record off. The other thing is there has not to our knowledge been any sales of homes that have failed because of this.

Phil Mock said there was one they are aware of where of that in order to get the sale done they removed it with the understanding they were going to put it back on because they weren't going to solve the issue because they were a new owner. I would think as a new owner you would like to know if there is a potential safety issue in your home if you're going to put your family in there. That is what they are trying to determine. Whether or not it is the original owner or a new owner and then they are a victim if we don't tell them.

Phil Mock said there are other harsher options we could choose which could be to send them all to Administrative Adjudication. But then they are going to have to stand before an Administrative Adjudication Judge and pay a fine and be taken to task or we can go to the State's Attorney and take them all to court. We don't want to do that either. The whole idea is to get people into compliance. Not to beat them up. Also, just forgiving them just sends a wrong message. Phil Mock said they are working on this and will have more information on it at a later date.

Judy Ogalla said the only reason I know this problem existed is because I got a letter. Shortly thereafter one of her constituents also got a letter. To me it was threatening when it said if I don't respond to this notice in twenty-one days a notice is going to be filed on my deed. Mrs. Ogalla stated the letter her constituent got was dated January 26th but wasn't stamped until January 29th. So the date was three days short. Mrs. Ogalla stated she had windows installed by a company. They got the permit. We assumed they handled it all. Her constituent got a community concerns grant. The letter said this is your final inspection. So this person assumed his was done although then he gets a letter saying it wasn't. The letter is rather vague and you don't always know what it is referring to.

Brian Radner said with the recording and the release there is no cost to the County to actually do that. The Recorder's Office is not charging the Land Use Department for that. We work with everybody as quickly as possible. If somebody calls they are probably going to have it the next day or within the next couple of days if that's convenient for them. As soon as they pass it we come back in the office and release it immediately. We go right over to the Recorder's Office and record the release.

Board Member Ogalla stated it's the Land Use Department's responsibility to follow up on those permits and make sure all the necessary inspections have been done and close out those permits. Not the homeowners. Board Member Ogalla asked to explain what the process that is in place now that is supposed to keep this from happening again.

David Dubois assured Board Member Ogalla that staff is doing their job regarding the permit process. Staff can make a recommendation but it is up to the Board how they want to handle the situation.

Brian Radner stated there are a couple of things we are doing to make sure we don't get into this position again. The system we are using now that Mike Smetana put into place produces a daily report that states what permits are due to expire and when. Basically, it's about one month out. One person gets a list of these properties and contacts the person by phone, email, letter or whatever method necessary to inform them their permit is about ready to expire. We asked them why they haven't acted on it and do they want to extend it? Based on what they want to do we can close it or extend it.

Last year we processed over 3,300 building permits. Close to half of those permits are same day permits or permits we can issue when somebody comes in. Like the roofing permit. There is only one inspection on a roofing permit and that's the final inspection. When they come in we tell the contractor or the homeowner we're going to schedule that inspection six (6) months out. If you complete it before then contact the department and we'll come out earlier and do the inspection. So we're already setting up the inspection to do the work.

Our inspectors use a software service on their IPads and they can pull up a map of all the open permits in the area. If they are doing an inspection in an area they can pull up a map and see what permits are open. They can go there and close out that inspection. That is something they do.

For 2016, the County has only recorded eighteen notices. So the process is working. We started using SmartGov June of 2016.

Board Member Ogalla said she wants to see the letter that is going out.

Board Member Balich agreed with Board Member Ogalla. We need to be careful what we say is a life/safety issue.

Gideon Bluestein with the Illinois Realtors Association said having a notice recorded on a title could cloud the title and he is also pleased there is a solution going forward. As of today it seems it only involves three hundred ninety-eight properties. As a realtors organization they are not opposed to permits being closed out. They want to make sure we are protecting life/safety and preserving good housing stock. They are opposed to the notice being recorded on the title and believe other avenues could be pursued.

The realtors association had an independent legal council Sorling Northrup do an external analysis that actually showed the code was not followed in how these notices were recorded. These notices were filed on title without following the County Code and so they need to be removed. The notices need to be removed and we need to find an alternative way to get these permits closed.

Chairman Weigel asked State's Attorney have you had a chance to look at that?

Phil Mock said we do not agree with his outside council's interpretation that the notice wasn't pursuant to the code. We feel we did have the ability to put the notices on. Again, it's only a notice. You can notice anything with the Recorder's Office. Unless it is something false or puts a lein improperly on property for money value that you don't have the right to put on then it's a criminal offense. The bottom line is we didn't just notice three hundred and ninety-eight. We noticed others and the notice triggered people to call in and get their inspection done and then we promptly removed it. That was another mechanism to get the people into compliance. Short of going through the Administrative Adjudication or injunctive relief or a fine through the courts. We can clearly do that. If you want me to tomorrow I can do three hundred and ninety-eight releases of those notices and file three hundred and ninety-eight les pendens because now we're taking you to court and you're going to have to pay a filing fee to even answer our complaint because it's civil in nature even though it's for money damages. We're going to ask for injunctive relief. We're going to ask for the courts to order inspections of your property against your will. We don't want to do that. We're trying to do it the polite way. The cooperative way. We are doing it that way. We are going to solve this problem and we are going to get these three hundred and ninety-eight taken care of. We may get down to five or six that we do have to take to court because there is no other way to do it.

Phil Mock stated all Land Use is trying to do is what you've asked them to do and work with the ordinances they have been given to work with. County Board can say they are all forgiven but the Land Use has to work with the Ordinance. They found a problem and they are trying to solve the problem.

Board Member Laurie Summers thanked Ragan Freitag, Land Use and Nick Palmer for all the work they are doing. Laurie Summers said as a homeowner and landowner herself she never assumes anything. If someone is coming into my home and doing work that is going to impact my family or safety I'm not going to assume anything. That's just in my nature. That's in my background so I'm going to follow through and check on everything and I would hope that the people that are having the work done would feel the same way, too. I want to get my money's worth. I want to make sure that everything is what it's supposed to be. Otherwise, we end up having issues down the line. Board Member Summers talked about an incident her sister-in-law had with her furnace. Fortunately, they were able to get out of the house. They had someone come in and the necessary permits were gotten and the work was cleared.

Board Member Judy Ogalla said Mary Tatroe mentioned a change needed to be made to the Ordinance. I was wondering what that change was. She mentioned it at our last Executive Committee Meeting.

Phil Mock said I don't know.

Chairman Weigel said we'll have to ask Mary.

Phil Mock said he does not know what the nature of the conversation was.

Brian Radner said in the one section of the Building Ordinance it talks about notice being filed at the Circuit Clerk's Office which is assuming it's a legal proceeding. That's how the Ordinance reads. Brian said he thinks that was brought up because Mr. Bluestein had pointed out that section references the Circuit Clerk and not the Recorder's Office. It is our legal council's opinion that is still an acceptable way of recording notice though.

Phil Mock said now that you've said it I think Mary said we need to take out the word Circuit Clerk. Because that would mean that's referring to you record it when we file les pendens if we went into court for enforcement and filed with the Circuit Clerk then you can record that. You can do that with operational law without it being in our Ordinance. You don't need everything to be in your Ordinance. There's certain things that happen by operational law. I don't need permission of your Ordinance to file a les pendens with the Recorder when we go to the Circuit Clerk and file a case.

Chairman Weigel said thank-you. Anybody else?

5. Public Comment

VII. Executive Session

VIII. Adjournment

1. Motion to adjourn the meeting.

The motion carried unanimously.

The meeting was adjourned at 1:00 pm.

Result: Approved [Unanimous]

Mover: Ray Tuminello, Member

Seconder: Judy Ogalla, Vice Chair

Ayes: Weigel, Ogalla, Balich, Summers, Tuminello, Winfrey

Absent: Ferry

IX. Next Meeting - April 10, 2018


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Will County Land Use and Development Committee