Man claims environmental damage

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-112248443921693.jpg’, ‘Photo by Ed Schott’, ‘Tree stumps on Ed Schott's property that he maintains were cut by First Rockford crew. Fence line is shown.’);

Ed Schott is a property owner who has been wrangling with the managers of a First Rockford development project, owned by Sunil Puri. Specifically, Schott charges that the work being done at the intersection of South Pierpont and Montague roads adjacent to his property in southwest Rockford has overstepped its bounds—both geographically and healthwise. The land is bordered and intersected by the section line between sections 28 and 33.

Schott has three acres of land next to the First Rockford project. “This destruction of environment by [Sunil] Puri is especially objectionable to a farmer-naturalist,” he said. In addition to this parcel, he also owns farmland in Warren County. He takes particular pride in his farm background.

His great-great-grandfather bought 191 acres in Warren County in 1832, and Schott has much timberland there. Referring to the Warren property, he said, “I am proud of it and the care we have given it for 173 years, including its heavy timber.” He also has trees on the Rockford property, many of which he planted himself.

Drawing the line

That’s where the line of contention lies. Schott claims that in the process of work on the First Rockford development, the crew reached over the top of his fence and cut two of his trees. First Rockford management disputes this claim.

On June 21, 2005, Schott sent a letter of complaint to Derek Watts and Marc Strauss, both at First Rockford’s operation. He wrote: “The operation of your organization is not properly supervised or inspected.

“Several trees of mine on my side of the property line have been cut in the Puri effort to destroy the natural environment. I had presumed that a properly managed organization would not allow this to occur and, at the very least, management’s inspection would note the violation of property and make proper correction of the subject violation. I have waited, and the violation of my property rights has not been either addressed or corrected.

“The operation has a machine with which they project fine, dry dust high into the air. Much of this dust drifts over, settles on my property, even inside the house. The dust has repeatedly clogged my window screens and soiled my freshly washed clothes which I had hung outside to dry. The dust also settles on plant leaves, blocking the light and hindering normal growth.

“I realize that your TOP management has no concern for nature, wildlife or trees as is evident in the destruction of all natural environment at the sites under control of your TOP management. Your TOP management causes a malignant, cancerous abscess to our town, county and environment wherever it operates.

“To correct for your TOP management’s damage to my trees and environment, I expect and demand that you install a proper barrier on your side of the property line between your ravaged, deforested area and the (my) agricultural land. Such barrier to consist of a black soil berm a minimum of 10 feet high and 5 feet wide at the top with Taxus Hicksi yew planted at 4- to 5-foot spacing at the top and seeded with big bluestem grass. The barrier is to be properly maintained in perpetuity at First Rockford or subsequent owner’s expense.

“To correct the public nuisance dust problem, cease and desist the operation of the dust projecting machine, or operate it only when the soil is wet.

“I expect immediate correction of your violations.

“Yours, Edmund A. Schott, Violated property owner”

Company denies responsibility

Schott received a reply dated June 23 from Marc Strauss, who said: “I deny your assertion that our organization is not properly supervised or inspected. I also deny that trees on your side of the property line have been cut or damaged. There also is no effort to destroy the natural environment, be uncaring about the environment, or have negative impacts on any group of people. There is an effort to complete our development process in a reasonable manner, consistent with law, in a way which is respectful of our neighbors. Construction activity is, by its nature, sometimes noisy and dusty. If you have been inconvenienced, we apologize.

“While we understand that the change in use next to your property is not to your liking, we must respectfully decline your demand that we install a barrier of any type. It is not required, and you are free to take any action on your property you deem necessary. We will remind the soil pulverizing subcontractor on the site (this is not an operation conducted by us) to take appropriate precautions during the conduct of his work. We expect this work to be completed shortly in any event.

“Thank you. Marc Strauss”

For people concerned about the environment and First Rockford’s developments, Ed Schott can be contacted at (815) 968-4060 or e-mail

To be continued…

From the July 27-Aug. 2, 2005, issue

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