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Oncology center looking to go greener

Published: Friday, Oct. 11, 2013 5:30 a.m. CST

MORRIS – The Morris Regional Oncology Center is asking the city for permission to add solar panels on its property to make it a greener facility.

Joseph Kozicki, project manager for Solar Micronics, which is doing the solar panel project for the center, presented to the Morris City Council’s Development Review Committee Thursday. The center is at 1600 W. U.S. 6.

The city already has approved the center adding a carport – which will have solar panels on the roof – to its parking lot.

The center initially planned to have a battery and solar system to power it, but it is abandoning the battery system and wants to make it completely solar, Kozicki said, but the company that was to supply the battery cannot provide it in a timely manner.

The oncology center now wants to add ground-mount solar panels in open space near the building and panels to the roof.

Making the center solar powered will save the center “100 percent of its electric bill,” Kozicki said. A fence would be put around the field to shield neighbors from the sight, and the center is willing to work with neighbors on the type of fencing to be constructed.

City Planner Mike Hoffman is concerned because there are several oak trees that would be cut down with the project. Kozicki said the center would plant replacement trees to the liking of the neighbors. Hoffman said the center also needs to submit for review a landscape and concept plan.

Neighbor Elbert Mills asked questions regarding safety and quality of life concerns, such as if the panels would reflect light or heat onto his house. The panels will be angled south so the light would be toward the parking lot, and no heat is generated from the panels, answered Kozicki.

He also reassured Mills no radiation is produced and there is no risk of hypersensitivity issues. The panels meet all certifications, he said.

Fire Chief Tracey Steffes of the Morris Fire Protection and Ambulance District and project architect Donald Kimball Jr., are going to walk the roof to see where the panels are going.

He said solar panels on roofs create problems because firemen ventilate roofs when trying to extinguish a fire. The architect said there will be portions of the roof without panels.

If the project moves forward, the center would have 720 solar panels, equaling 230 kilowatts of power. Kozicki said the center wants to have the panels in place by Dec. 31 to receive federal government funds offered as an incentive for solar panels.

The committee tabled the concept plan until it receives a landscape plan, including plans for the fence.

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