Public hearing on proposed commercial solar facility near Hawthorn Woods canceled as village annexes property

RPIL Solar 3 withdraws application with Lake County, challenges annexation in court

An application to locate a commercial solar energy facility on 38 acres near Hawthorn Woods has been withdrawn.

The action Monday morning by Renewable Properties LLC applying as RPIL Solar 3 LLC means a public hearing scheduled Wednesday before the Lake County Zoning Board of Appeals has been canceled.

RPIL Solar 3’s action follows intense public opposition and a legal action brought by the company against the village for annexing the property at 25428 N. Fairfield Road.

Details of how that came to be were not immediately available but if upheld, the solar facility would come under village jurisdiction rather than the county ZBA, which deals with matters in unincorporated areas.

An application for a proposed commercial solar farm site along Fairfield Road in Hawthorn Woods has been withdrawn. The village’s recent annexation of the property is being challenged in court. Courtesy of village of Hawthorn Woods

A hearing before Lake County Zoning Board of Appeals was held March 21 per a legal requirement. But no action on RPIL Solar’s application for a conditional use permit to operate the solar facility was taken.

Instead, after numerous requests to do so, the hearing was rescheduled to a later date at a location to be determined in Ela Township rather than Libertyville. That later hearing was set for Wednesday at Ela Area Public Library.

Wednesday’s hearing would have continued as scheduled if RPIL Solar’s application had not been withdrawn because of its legal and jurisdictional status with litigation pending.

Jim Auld, director of site acquisition for San Francisco-based Renewable Properties, said Monday the company “unfortunately” was withdrawing its application.

“We will continue to pursue all legal means to correct this forced annexation,” he said.

As proposed, the solar field would occupy about 23 acres and have 11,544 solar panels in an open area bordered by subdivisions. Residents and the village strenuously objected saying the facility was in a bad location and didn’t fit in the area.

This was the third commercial solar facility proposed in unincorporated Lake County all by San Francisco-based Renewable Properties. The ZBA recently approved facilities for Fremont and Antioch townships.

“The village has made it perfectly clear that they do not want this development and will do everything in their power to block it,” Ault said.

He added, the intent would be to refile with the county if RPIL Solar prevails in court and, although disappointed with how this situation played out, is committed to developing projects throughout Illinois.

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