Carbondale City Council denies special permit for solar farm pro - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Carbondale City Council denies special permit for solar farm project

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CARBONDALE, Ill. -- In a special meeting Tuesday night, the City Council voted unanimously to deny BrightFields Development a special use permit. The company applied for the permit, in order to put in an 80 acre solar panel farm at the site of the former Koppers Wood Treatment Facility. 

A BrightFields representative put on a short presentation for the council and attendees outlining the project's benefits to the community. This came at the request of Mayor Mike Henry in a city council meeting on October 9th, when council members decided to table the agenda item due to lack of information. 

The representative touted benefits such as energy to power 4,000 local households a year, $35-40 million in temporary construction jobs and operating phase contracts, as well as, $3.4 million to the Carbondale region in tax revenue and a community benefits program. 

However, Opponents to the project have been vocal. They claim the soil is contaminated with a creosote, a chemical used by Koppers to treat wood, and could make neighbors sick. 

"Number one its toxic land. There’s been nothing that says it’s not toxic," explains  Carbondale Resident Anna Jackson. "The other thing is that the people don’t want it." 

The crowd cheered when hearing the council's decision, but the land's zoning allows industrial use without a special permit. 

"A concrete mixing plant could come set up shop right there and there would be nothing the city could do about it," says Jerrold Hennrich, Chairman of Human Relations Committee. 

Attendees expressed interest in starting a motion to modify the zoning, so it could be commercial free. 

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