County extends solar moratorium


OREGON – The Ogle County Board on Aug. 20 extended the moratorium on new solar developments in the county until the end of the year.

The board agreed to extend the moratorium for the second time because the state has not set another date for a lottery to select new solar developments. The extension will also give Harry Adams, Jr., the county’s new Planning and Zoning administrator, time to “become acclimated” to the solar issue, said Board Chairman Kim Gouker.

The county initially set the moratorium at a public forum in August 2018. It was extended earlier this year so the county could form a taskforce to study the issue.

The board also received an update on the new jail currently being built behind the Judicial Center on Sixth Street. The plumbing and electrical work have started, and the load bearing walls are up. The construction is on track for the late 2020 opening of the 42,000-square foot, 154-bed adult facility. The county broke ground of the project on April 10.

The board also had a discussion about recreational marijuana use in Illinois, which goes into effect on Jan. 1. Gouker said he just wanted to gauge how board members felt about it and how the county should come down on the issue.

“My personal feeling is we should opt out,” he said, meaning there would be no growth or sales of cannabis in unincorporated parts of the county.

Municipalities will make their own rules regarding recreational marijuana sales.

But Board member Kim Whalen of Rochelle said if the county opts out, people will just bypass it to find a place that sells pot.

Board member Don Griffin said there is a lot of gray area with the state, and said the county should take some time to look at the issue before moving forward.

Gouker said he would have more information to the board on the cannabis as early as next month.