Guest Column: County board should vote ‘no’ on special-use permit for East State asphalt plant

By Nichole Larison Sammon
Fox Ridge Subdivision resident

William Charles has proposed placing an asphalt plant in the East State Street quarry, and this permit is pending before the Winnebago County Zoning Committee and the Winnebago County Board as a whole. As a neighbor of the East State Street quarry, a property taxpaying citizen of Winnebago County, a voter, but mainly as a concerned citizen regarding this proposed asphalt plant, I ask the county board to consider the following.

Two of the standards the Zoning Board of Appeals, Zoning Committee and full county board must use to determine whether a special-use permit should be issued mention property value and development. The ZBA failed to fully understand the surrounding properties’ values, especially from a property tax perspective.

The surrounding area near the proposed asphalt plant is a large property tax base and is very valuable to the county. The detrimental impacts of an asphalt plant to the property value of this area would affect the property tax revenue this county enjoys and needs every year. With 17 undeveloped lots just in the Fox Ridge Subdivision, the county needs the surrounding neighborhoods to fully develop to receive additional property tax revenue from the private family homes.

According to property tax records, publicly available from the Winnebago County database, William Charles pays approximately $400,000, while the neighbors of the proposed asphalt plant pay more than $1.5 million. The homes closest to the State Street quarry, all 71 properties, pay more in property tax than William Charles’ 150 properties. To put it another way, the neighbors of the proposed asphalt plant pay more than 3.5 times more in property tax than all of the William Charles properties.

William Charles’ properties consist of quarries and surrounding properties, rural land, real estate investment land, and land benefiting the stakeholders in William Charles.

Tim Bridges, of William Charles Construction, has a nice extended back yard, thanks to the generosity of Rockford Blacktop Construction Company to the tune of almost $7,000 per year.

Nathan Howard the president of William Charles Ltd., gets the best deal of all. The seven plots of land surrounding his personal property are paid for by Rockford Blacktop Construction, and his personal home property tax is paid for by William Charles Investments.

In less than a mile from Howard’s complex, Rockford Blacktop owns a rock quarry. One can only wonder why this location is not a preferred location for an asphalt plant.

As Winnebago County residents, you should know, William Charles benefits from every relationship with the county board, from each corner of our county budget, and does not need the additional benefit of an additional asphalt plant zoned location.

With all of their businesses and properties, William Charles not only pays less than the surrounding families in property tax, but they earn additional revenue from contracts from Winnebago County paid for and derived from residential property taxes. William Charles even benefits from newly-identified county development projects; William Charles Real Estate Investment, LLC, is a landowner in the recently established I-39 Industrial corridor by the Winnebago County Board.

Fees paid by William Charles, companies and affiliates to Winnebago County come full circle to improving their landscaping views along the Rock River and pay them for roadwork in the county. The county’s 2012 budget shows $440,000 for road projects already arranged and paid for by fees paid by the garbage haulers to the Winnebago Landfill, Rock River Disposal Services, Inc., a William Charles company.

While this might be a different discussion if William Charles was creating NEW jobs with the proposed asphalt plant, this is not the case. William Charles stated during the ZBA public hearing no new jobs would be created in Winnebago County with this proposed asphalt plant. Instead, William Charles will be shutting down the Nimtz Quarry asphalt plant operation and moving those jobs to the new asphalt plant in the East State Street quarry, all four employees. That is job relocation, not creation.

This might, moreover, be a different discussion if there were a public need for this asphalt plant in Winnebago County. William Charles Construction already has permanent asphalt plants and portable asphalt plants in operation, and they are able to meet all contractual obligations to state and federal projects. William Charles has four viable and available alternative locations other than the East State Street quarry location; ones that more than half of the aggregate (rock) does not need to be trucked into the quarry for production, like the East State Street quarry. All of the available alternative locations have been found already suitable locations by local public bodies for asphalt plants.

For the good of the taxpaying residents surrounding the East State Street quarry and Winnebago County as a whole, the Winnebago County Board should vote “No” on this proposed special-use permit. William Charles has benefited enough from its relationship with the Winnebago County Board. They do not need one more favor. Please call your Winnebago County Board member and let them know they should vote “NO” to the special-use permit for the East State Street quarry.

From the Oct. 5-11, 2011, issue

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!