Chicory Ridge clearing causes anxiety

Developer’s bulldozing of land makes some Roscoe residents uneasy about future

On Wednesday, Sept. 8, bulldozers hired by developer Jeff Petry cleared a 100-foot swath through a forest covering a hill on Plat 15 at Chicory Ridge Subdivision adjacent to the Rock River near Roscoe. The newly scarred hill on Plat 15 overlooks plats 17 and 18, both on a flood plain of the Rock River. The bulldozing caught many by surprise and frightened adjacent neighbors, who have a lot to lose if further development affects runoffs, siltation, flooding, etc.

Because plats 17 and 18 are on the flood plain, the Roscoe Town Council has voted against Chicory Ridge Subdivision expanding onto the precarious flood plain. The town council voted 6-0 against Petry’s development on plats 17 and 18 earlier this year, and the denial was embraced by Mayor Ward Sterett, who rose to power after his highly visible effort helping to stop the Perryville extension. So far, Roscoe’s wiser stance on sprawl has prevailed in as far as its dealings with Chicory Ridge. Many, however, are weary of Petry’s Sept. 8 bulldozing. Opponents of development on plats 17 and 18 see the bulldozing as a bully tactic, and an ominous sign that Petry will have his way, no matter how Roscoe votes.

“We shouldn’t be at this critical juncture,” said a Chicory Ridge resident opposed to development on plats 17 and 18, who wished to remain anonymous. “The town voted against it, and that’s the way it is. Because Petry owns the land and has the money, he thinks he can do as he pleases no matter how it affects the river, the people and river downstream, and us neighbors up here.”

At the request of Chicory Ridge residents, Chuck Corely of the local Illinois Environmental Protection Agency checked out the Plat 15 bulldozing site personally. At this point in inquiry, it’s believed Petry has no permits to do work on plats 17 and 18 that would affect the environment, according to Corely. Petry has permits for Plat 15, which is where his last bulldozing occurred. But will his work on 15 affect the river and land below? Chuck Corely has an opinion on this question and has submitted it to higher-ups in IEPA offices downstate. His opinion will bear some weight with the enforcement branch of the IEPA, which will make the decision on action in the not-too-distant future.

That’s where it stands at this point. Petry has not laid shovel on his own flood plain or submitted a recent plan to do so, and a judgment on whether he’s already gone too far will weigh in soon. Meanwhile, nervous neighbors and a somewhat intimidated town wait for Petry’s next move.

Petry was not available to comment for this article.

Rod Myers is a local resident with an interest in the environment and disability issues.

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