Solar energy was a dominant topic of discussion at Wednesday’s Tazewell County Zoning Board of Appeals public hearing.

Petitions heard included a request for a one-year extension on a special use permit by Sahara Solar to allow construction of a two-megawatt commercial solar farm at 13587 E. Manito Road, Pekin.

“The established Illinois Adjustable Block Program was delayed until January of this year,” said Matt Kaufmann, a developer for DJ Mahoney Capital, which owns the property in question. “That has delayed construction on the solar farm.”

The Zoning Board of Appeals also heard two petitions from the Chicago-based energy company Green Key Solar to allow the construction of a community solar garden at 171 Ten Mile Creek Road, East Peoria and two solar gardens at 21314 Illinois Route 9, Tremont. DG Illinois Solar, a subsidiary of New York-based firm NextEra Energy Resources, petitioned for a special use authorization to construct an additional solar garden at 8428 Wagonseller Road, Green Valley.

“Illinois is blessed with a lot of really good farmland,” said Hunter Strader, owner of Green Key Solar. “These projects would not take that land out of production indefinitely. They’ll be beneficial to the county, because (the proposed solar gardens in Tremont) would be on what is currently tax-exempt county property. So, the county would be getting tax revenue from a property where they didn’t get it before.”

In other business, the board heard a special use permit petition from Cynthia Ragon to allow her to keep no more than six chickens on a zoning lot of more than 10,000 square feet and less than two acres at 305 Westminster Drive, Mackinaw. The body also reviewed a proposed amendment to the Zoning Code of Tazewell County.