Guest Column: Opinion of county’s asphalt plant emissions expert differs from OSHA
• Correspondence between Tom and Billie D. Mills and Winnebago County Board Chairman Scott Christiansen
By Tom & Billie D. Mills
September 22, 2011
Dear Mr. Christiansen:
We are writing to you to express our opposition to the asphalt plant in the East State quarry!
As 21-year residents of a 6.5-acre estate adjoining the quarry on the north, we have paid over $200,000 in real estate taxes, and now an asphalt plant would destroy our property values and quality of life.
As a pharmacist, I testified before the ZBA that I had done much research on the effects of asphalt fumes.
I told the ZBA I would not bore the board with the reports since the reports led me to the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) website that summarizes the effects of asphalt fumes.(www.osha.gov/SLTC/asphaltfumes/index.html)
To quote: Health effects from exposure to asphalt fumes include headache, skin rash, sensitization, fatigue, reduced appetite, throat and eye irritation, cough, and skin cancer.
The ZBA stated they would only consider testimony from expert witnesses, not information from the internet.
Dr. Brown, a toxicologist (the study of poisons and their effects), is a highly-paid expert witness that travels the U.S. testifying for asphalt plant owners.
I am sure she made a good case that the fumes are harmless.
It is a shame that OSHA differs in that opinion!
As for property values, William Charles found an appraiser that testified that an asphalt plant will not affect our property values. Would you buy a home next to the asphalt plant?
Standards for the zoning are:
1) Not be detrimental to or endanger public health.
2) Not be injurious to the use and enjoyment of other property in the immediate vicinity or impair property values.
With just these two standards in mind, I can’t see how you could possibly approve this plant.
The ZBA put restrictions on William Charles, one of which was a 10-year operating permit.
William Charles argued for longer permits stating the major investment for them, but in earlier meetings, they stated they are moving used equipment from the Nimtz quarry so it would not have to be EPA certified!
What is the benefit to OUR county, there are only three workers required to operate the plant and they already work at the Nimtz quarry! No new jobs…..
Thank you for your consideration:
Tom & Billie D. Mills
Reply from Winnebago County Board Chairman Scott Christiansen
Dear Mr. & Mrs. Mills:
Thank you for your information and interest regarding the proposed asphalt plant relocation.
Pursuant to state laws, only testimony and evidence presented at the Zoning Board of Appeals hearings can be considered by county board members when voting on any zoning petition. Hopefully, you were able to appear at a Zoning Board of Appeals hearing and share your thoughts at that time.
FYI, I’m certain the County Board will consider all appropriate data when making a decision on this petition.
Scott H. Christiansen, Chairman
Winnebago County Board
404 Elm Street, Room 533
Rockford IL 61101
Ofc: (815) 319-4233
FAX: (815) 319-4226
Reply from Property Owner and Taxpayer Billie D. Mills
Dear Winnebago County Chairman and Board members,
It never ceases to amaze me how our politicians promise so much before they are elected, and after they get elected, all the promises seem to go up in smoke. Our state representative didn’t even want to get involved, the newly-elected First Ward alderman clearly states that the area is NOT in his ward, it goes on and on and on. I remember a time when it was “BY THE PEOPLE … FOR THE PEOPLE,” now it’s “VOTE FOR ME AND I WILL TAKE CARE OF MYSELF.” So, now on Thursday, Oct. 27, 2011, the County Board will cast its vote on the approval of an ASPHALT PLANT in the East State Street quarry owned by the infamous William Charles (we know this is the case, Scott Christiansen told a close friend that is it a DONE deal). It seems that most of the board members that are running for either re-election or another office are in great favor of this hazardous, toxic, carcinogenic asphalt plant in the location of Exit Business 20, the main artery to Rockford and Belvidere. Could it be that they have received a generous donation from William Charles??? You know the old saying “MONEY TALKS AND BULLS— WALKS.”
The ZBA (Zoning Board of Appeals) has a list of six standards for special-use permits. A YES vote for this proposed asphalt plant is in DIRECT VIOLATION of four of these six standards. When this was brought up to a county board member, we were told that these standards are simply recommendations, so I guess that I can recommend that my taxes be lowered and pay what I recommend! I wonder how far I would get if I did half of what these elected officials do? We all know that we could not get away with any of it!
We hope that these board members have, in fact, read all the information they have been given, but it is a shame that they haven’t received everything. Or is it that they just want to ignore the whole scenario, let certain, deep-pocket individuals, tell them what to do, continue on as if they are doing the best job for the people? This is just like communist Russia back in the 1990s. Certain people ran the country and the rest were puppets! Wouldn’t it be refreshing to have a politician step up and do what they proclaimed they would do! Where have all the good guys gone? Shame on all you GREEDY GOOD OL’ BOYS!
Rockford will NEVER be the way it was. How tragic to see this BEAUTIFUL FOREST CITY go to the DOGS! Florida looks sunnier every day!
Billie Diane Mills
From the Oct. 26-Nov. 1, 2011, issue
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