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Pingree Grove to develop renewable energy ordinance

Updated: November 6, 2012 6:16AM

PINGREE GROVE — Residents interested in erecting a wind turbine or other renewable energy source on their property will soon have a set of rules to guide them, thanks to funding approved by village trustees.

The village board Tuesday night authorized spending about $5,000 for Rolf C. Campbell & Associates to draft a renewable energy code that would govern wind, solar, geothermal and biodiesel equipment in residential areas of the village.

The consultant’s proposed schedule is for 40 to 50 hours of work, which will include research, meetings with village staff, public hearings, and writing the ordinance. Trustees will review the ordinance and make any changes before approval.

Village President Greg Marston said residents have shown a fair amount of interest in renewable energy sources, including several who have asked about it.

Those requests have prompted the board to consider such an ordinance at least once in the past several years. Trustees put a moratorium on wind turbines and other residential renewable energy equipment because of budget concerns, to preserve esthetics, and to give staff a chance to research the matter.

Marston said he believes advances in technology, combined with the board’s initiative in creating an ordinance, may spark increased interest.

Although he voted in favor of the expenditure, along with each of the four other trustees at the meeting, Trustee Bob Spieker voiced concern about amending a budget that trustees worked so hard to balance in the past year. Spieker was also unsure of what the homeowners association, which governs many of the newer residences, might say.

“I’m not against writing an ordinance,” Spieker said. “I’m just not sure if we should move forward with this before all our ducks are in a row.”

According to Village Administrator Ken Lopez, representatives from the homeowners associations have been contacted and indicated they would be willing to work with the village on the process.

Trustee Ray LaMarca was a vocal supporter of moving forward with the plan.

“The sooner it gets started, the sooner we have something to show the HOA to say here’s what were recommending,” LaMarca said. “Until we pass something and see what the new technologies are, we’re just delaying it.”

Marston said he thinks the village is in a position to make this kind of expenditure. He noted that building permit records show that the yearly target of 80 new homes already has been achieved. He said this is a minor expense compared to what it potentially delivers to residents.

“This year is going to be better than last, and last year was fairly good thanks to the hard work of the board,” said Marston. “We have a little room to amend the budget to be able to do this.”

According to a memo from Rolf C. Campbell & Associates, the firm has a continuing contract with the village for planning services that sets its rates between $65 and $120 per hour. Senior planner Jeramiah Yeksavich will do most of the work on this project, at a rate of $95 per hour.

At a previous meeting, the board asked for the ordinance to include residential properties only, which took about eight hours off the initial estimate.

Funds for the project will come from the village’s general budget. A budget amendment is expected soon.

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