Flash points: Sprawl is everywhere

Area farmers showed their teeth and growled at a meeting at the Warren Paulson farm Oct. 7. The meeting was called to discuss a proposed highway that could end up connecting Roscoe with East State Street near Showplace 16.

The Rockford Area Transportation Study (known as RATS) says projects like this must be aired in public before they are set in stone. However, county engineer Joe Vanderwerff was not at the meeting. But Jerry Paulson, director of the Natural Land Institute, was there. He seemed to be more informed than anyone else on both sides of the issue. Jerry is a relative of Warren Paulson.

Many wondered how the plans for this four-laned monster highway had gotten so far along without public knowledge. At the end of September, fliers on the road project reached the Unitarian Universalist Church on Turner Street during a BlackHawk Sierra Club meeting. The information angered many. In the days that followed, WNTA-1330 mid-day airwaves filled with resentment toward the sudden $80 million road plan, which some call the Perryville Road resurrection.

The county says the road is years away and will not be built without solid positive feedback. Others claim that pressure from Loves Park development wants a portion of this road to connect Spring Brook with Orth Road by the end of 2005. Such a connection would also help access for the new RiverHawks stadium. Machesney Park seems to be positioning for its share of the proposed highway; surely, an annexation battle looms ahead.

One wonders how many non-farming millionaire investors have bought up land in the area and are now clamoring for a return on their investments to the local powers. Besides the damage to area farms, look at the wetlands that will suffer at the hands of fresh highway sprawl. The headwaters of Spring Creek will be threatened, and also affected will be Manning Creek, Keith Creek, Willow Creek and McDonald Creek if the proposed highway reaches the Keiselburg Forest Preserve area.

Hats off to the farmers who acted quickly. They see a monster in the making that could end up being a four-lane road to hell with solid development from end to end. Ugliness will replace countryside beauty, and high taxes will be replaced by higher taxes. Those who plan these monster projects that serve the greedy are becoming more secretive. Disclosure defeats them.

Chicory Ridge–a subdivision in fear

Just days after a cease and desist order was given to developer Jeff Petry for dynamiting on Plat 15 at Chicory Ridge, the Roscoe Police Department lifted the order. Petry was ready to destroy more rock when a judge served him with an injunction at the behest of Chicory Ridge resident Tom Flynn. Flynn, who lives in Petry’s old house, had structural damage from Petry’s blasting. Flynn was not about to have his whole house and garages tumble to the ground.

Petry’s got my vote for craziest developer of the year. The sad reality is that people are very nervous at Chicory Ridge. Most do not have insurance for blasting damage.

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

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