Guest Column: Zoning Board not respectful of citizens’ concerns

Editor’s note: The writer included this e-mail to us: “To whom it may concern: I am attaching a file that I would like you to consider for the editorial column for The Rock River Times. I would also like to request that you share with Frank Schier how impressed and grateful I am for his involvement with the Ogle County wind farm discussions at the Zoning Board meetings. I have only attended two meetings, but his presence is highly regarded by many in the room, and his questions are always thoughtful, fair and pointed. Please thank him for me … this wind farm issue is heartbreaking. I am not sure this editorial is appropriate for the Rockford audience but maybe for county government, in general? I do know that many of us out in the rural areas do pick up The Rock River Times and read it.”

By Kara Gallup

To the citizens and taxpayers of Ogle County:

As a property owner in Ogle County, I recently attended two Zoning Board meetings to become more familiar with issues surrounding the wind farm development in our county. During these meetings, I had an opportunity to hear from witnesses giving testimony in support of the Farm Bureau platform.

I support the WECS [Wind Energy Conversion System] subcommittee recommendations, especially the 2,640-foot turbine setback … for multiple reasons. But that is not why I am writing this editorial.

At the Zoning Board meeting July 26, a lawyer engaged by the Farm Bureau presented a PowerPoint, and a union representative shared his viewpoint. At one point in the evening, the Farm Bureau representative said to the board, publicly, as part of his discussion, that he felt material presented by those in opposition to his views earlier was “just a bunch of crap.” Now, my expectation was that the Zoning Board would probably give him a gentle reprimand and remind him that their role was to explore the facts in an impartial manner and assure that everyone in the room was treated with respect and dignity. Instead, at least half if not more, of the Zoning Board members, smiled or laughed out loud. Later, another lawyer for the unions stood up and laughingly said she thought it was “a bunch of crap” also. Again, more twittering and laughing. There were several Zoning Board members who did not join in on the levity, and I thank them for their professionalism.

The point is, the Zoning Board members are my elected officials. I count on them to act in a manner that is fair and unbiased. If this were not the case, as it appeared to be at the recent meetings, then citizens of the county might doubt that requests submitted to the board would be treated fairly. It also tends to discourage those in the audience from standing up to make a statement because of the laughter they might have to face from the board. I suggest that the county board consider adding this concern as an agenda item in the near future. A close look at all board procedures might be helpful and provide a gentle reminder to you all that we, the people you represent, are watching and care a great deal about the rights and interests of the community.

Respectfully, Kara Gallup

Kara Gallup is a resident of Leaf River.

From the Aug. 3-9, 2011, issue

One thought on “Guest Column: Zoning Board not respectful of citizens’ concerns

  • Aug 4, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    Well, Kara, I can’t imagine a weaker response. I hope your expectation aren’t high, as I certainly doubt that you will achieve anything with your “play nice” approach.

    My choice would be to document who said what, who applauded and laughed, and who remained focused on their duties. Then come next election, I would flood the mailboxes and locals newspapers with this incident. That way you could see if other voters like being laughed at as well.

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