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updated: 3/12/2014 5:49 PM

South Elgin neighborhood may gain distance from ComEd project

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South Elgin residents fearing the impact of new ComEd power lines carrying almost three times the voltage of what already exists would see some relief under a relocation proposal agreed to by Kane County's transportation committee Wednesday.

The new lines will carry 345,000-volt power lines between substations in Bryon and Wayne. The line will travel about 57 miles across Ogle, DeKalb, Kane and DuPage counties. That includes a neighborhood near along Stearns Road near South McLean Boulevard in South Elgin.

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Part of ComEd's current $200 million plan involves installing power poles as high as 160 feet about 60 feet away from the backyards of homes along Stearns Road. Several of those backyards unofficially extend into ComEd's right-of-way as property owners have taken to mowing grass and incorporating land that actually belongs to ComEd. There is a tree line followed by a set of railroad tracks and additional trees on the south side of the railroad.

The current proposal would clear-cut most of the trees that are closest to the backyards. Those are trees residents say shield them and their children from the danger and noise of railroad tracks.

County officials teamed up with South Elgin staff member to propose moving the power poles and lines to the other side of the tracks, about 60 feet south from the centerline of the railroad tracks. Doing so would preserve some of the oak trees that exist, though much of the "less desirable" trees would still be cleared. Moving the trees to the south side of the tracks also means all the trees and vegetation planted by the county during its recent Stearns Road construction will also be uprooted to make room for the power towers.

South Elgin Village Manager Larry Jones told the committee he and his staff have worked with ComEd extensively to address the concerns of the residents. As such, they support of the pushing of the power poles to the south side of the tracks.

"The current proposal would turn peoples' backyards from the woods to a clear path," Jones said. "This proposal is preserving some of the tree line."

The path of the power lines and poles would revert to ComEd's original design on the east side of the Fox River.

The county committee unanimously supported the plan.

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