River Keys gets flood of objections, Part III

River Keys gets flood of objections, Part III

By Shellie Berg

By Shellie Berg

Staff Reporter

The tide is high for the River Keys subdivision developers, who continue to face dissent by residents and neighboring Owen Township Supervisor Owen Bach.

Bach considers the process for obtaining a railroad crossing from I & M RailLink—the only crossing to be used specifically for the subdivison—was unethical.

The Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) in Chicago approved the crossings. River Keys developer Oliver Schneeman presented himself as the consulting engineer from Machesney Park to the ICC in 1998. Schneeman said he did so because he and Machesney Park wanted to work together. He also said the crossing is the safest way to enter the project.

“It’s totally misrepresenting the parties to the Commerce Commission,” Bach stated. “I think it’s a conflict of interest.”

Bach suspects the reason for Schneeman acting as consulting engineer was because “it’s easier when the village goes to do something than when an individual does,” he stated. “Ultimately, I think it was because [former Village President] Steve Kuhn wanted to do it and justify the means.”

Machesney Park Village Attorney Tom Green said that Schneeman represented himself as a consulting engineer because, “Machesney Park authorized Mr. Schneeman to take the necessary steps to apply for that railroad crossing. He did it in the name of Machesney Park because they authorized him to.”

Green assisted Schneeman in getting the crossing because Schneeman initially sent an application, and the ICC rejected it. Schneeman reimbursed the village for attorney’s fees, and it was apparently the only time he assisted them.

Green denies being the regular attorney for the developers. “It’s been published that way before,” he said. “It’s false now, and it’s always been false.”

Machesney Park approval

Bach is upset about the actions taken by Kuhn and the Machesney Park Village Board. He stated the board served as a “rubber stamp” for Kuhn. The board approved River Keys, despite going against the township’s and constituents’ wishes, Bach said.

Kuhn declined to speak to The Rock River Times about the village’s actions taken on River Keys while he acted as mayor, declaring, “I’m out of that business now.”

The board approved the final plat of the subdivision April 27, just weeks before the takeover of current Village President Linda Vaughn. Vaughn alluded to the controversy surrounding the project and the manner in which developers conversed with residents.

“I’m not saying they were dishonest. I don’t think that they went into it being upfront with the existing residents who live around there,” she said. “When they asked a question, they skirted it or didn’t answer it quickly or honestly. It left a lot of suspicion.”

A Plat Committee was created to examine plans and consisted of trustees Diana Johnson, Larry Brostrom and Carl Holder. Holder refused to speak with The Rock River Times, indicating that he is no longer a trustee. All attempts to contact Brostrom and Johnson were unsuccessful.

Residents’ reaction

Katie Waldsmith lives on Bergstrom Rd. and voiced her concerns at public hearings.

Continued on page 5

From page 1

Co Waldsmith said the developers have bulldozed the existing riverbank to put in houses.

“I think if you’re going to have a waterway … leave it as natural as possible,” Waldsmith stated. “It is so glaring. It’s been absolutely stripped naked.”

She agreed with Vaughn’s statement that the developers failed to communicate openly with residents. “They said they had certain affidavits … when they didn’t,” she said.

Waldsmith feels the residents in the area have “taxation without representation. We don’t have no say in what they do. Money talks.”

She said that at this point, she hopes the developers won’t desecrate the land by putting in “cracker box” houses. “At least make it something pretty that will add to the landscape.”

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!