MORRIS – The Morris Regional Oncology Center received the go-ahead from the Morris City Council on Monday for zoning accommodations for it to make its facility greener.
“This is for solar power panels to be put up on that parcel,” Mayor Richard Kopczick said during the regular meeting Monday.
The center is planning to put solar panels on its roof and on open green space it has on its property located at 1600 W. U.S. 6. The request before the council was for a front yard set-back and a side yard set-back variance of 15 feet each to accommodate their plans to put in ground-mound solar panels, as well as fencing. Ordinance requires 40 feet from the property line for commercial zoning and the center requested 25 feet for each set-back.
The council approved the variances unanimously.
The project has to return to the Development Review Committee for approval of its landscaping plan, said Building and Zoning Officer Bill Cheshareck after the meeting. DRC is scheduled to meet Nov. 14.
The city already approved the center adding a carport – which will have solar panels on the roof – to its parking lot.
Making the center solar powered will save the center “100 percent of its electric bill,” said Joseph Kozicki, project manager for Solar Micronics, which is doing the solar panel project for the center, previously. A fence will be put around the open space where the panels are being added to shield neighbors.
The center worked with the neighbors on the type of fencing to be constructed and have chosen a beige-colored vinyl fence, Cheshareck said.
The fence will be 6 feet in the back and 4 feet on the sides. The ground panels will be about 30 inches off the ground.
The center will have 720 solar panels, equaling 230 kilowatts of power. The center wants to have the panels in place by Dec. 31 to receive federal government funds offered as an incentive for solar panels.
When the project was presented before the DRC last month, the committee requested a landscaping plan. City Planner Mike Hoffman said he was concerned with the oak trees that will have to be cut down for the project.
The center agreed to replace the trees.
Kozicki said the center has met with the neighbors to see what kind of trees they would like to see, and the parties agreed upon evergreens along with shrubbery. This will be located on the outside of the fence and has to be approved by the DRC.
At a Planning Commission meeting last week, the commission instructed Hoffman to do some research on zoning regulations regarding solar panels, as well as private wind energy mechanisms since both methods of green energy are increasing in popularity for both residential and business owners.
Kopczick said this is the first solar panel project for a business that has been before the city.
“It’s intriguing, and I look forward to seeing the results they achieve with this project,” he said after the meeting.