By Jeffrey William Sammon
Fox Ridge Subdivision resident
At the risk of resurrecting another “dead horse,” I have some last comments on William Charles’ proposed construction of an asphalt plant in the East State Street quarry. These comments address State Rep. and former Rockford Ald. Joe Sosnowski, formerly a resident of the Fox Ridge subdivision adjacent to the quarry.
As a Fox Ridge resident, Mr. Sosnowski has never taken the time to introduce himself or even wave a greeting in the five-plus years I have lived in the same neighborhood; Mr. Sosnowski simply likes to cover the ground like snow and expect us to forget his arrogance when it comes time for his “people” to place signs in our yards.
Let’s start with all the controversy and challenges from his neighbors to William Charles’ request for a special-Use Permit from the county board, through the board’s final approval of the permit, Mr. Sosnowski remained silent. Requests for his support against the plant from his neighbors went unanswered; even after some of his neighbors met with the members of the local Tea Party — one of “Mr. Sosnowski’s biggest supporters. We presumed that the legal maxim “silence implies consent” applied; in other words, if Joe did not openly oppose the asphalt plant being built in his back yard, he was for it. He was so sure that the plant would bring no ill effects to the neighborhood that he even offered to arrange for a tour of William Charles’ similar plant on Nimtz Road for one of his concerned neighbors.
Let’s also not forget that he voted “For” a very similar asphalt plant at Mulford Quarry, situated inside the Mulford/Harrison neighborhood while he was a Rockford alderman. Remember that the asphalt plant at East State Street quarry will be even closer to homes than the proposed Mulford Quarry that Mr. Sosnowski voted for as a councilman.
The Winnebago County Board approved the special-use permit for the East State Street Quarry and construction of the asphalt plant at their meeting of Oct. 27.
Coincidentally, Mr. Sosnowski packed up his family and moved out of the Fox Ridge subdivision Dec. 17 and moved into 6153 Muirfield Lane, Rockford.
Apparently, he believes the ill effects of an asphalt plant could be dumped upon his neighbors and their children, but he wants his family (a wife and three small children) moved away before actual production starts in the spring. Why move if the plant’s emissions and noise are harmless? Why move approximately 5 miles from the Fox Ridge neighborhood — was it because of better public schools?
As a full-time employee of Rockford Christian Schools, I doubt Mr. Sosnowski would put his children in public schools. I have had several reports that Mr. Sosnowski and his wife did not like the thought of going outside and being able to see the asphalt plant.
It is obvious that Mr. Sosnowski’s hypocritical move is that of a political opportunist. The Republican Party obviously advised him that becoming involved in this controversy and taking a stand against the William Charles conglomerate would constitute political suicide. Remaining silent while his neighbors fought against overwhelming political odds is an act of political cowardice; but alas, this is the trademark of Mr. Sosnowski. Mr. Sosnowski had the opportunity to distinguish himself from other self-serving Winnebago County politicians by taking a stand against one of the most blatant special interest groups in the county, but unfortunately, he blew it and became just another one of the “grazing herd” feeding at the public trough.
Mr. Sosnowski has done nothing to distinguish himself as a legislator in Springfield, except to sponsor House Bill 1626 “CNTY CD-ZONING-SPECIAL USES.” This Bill amends the Counties Code by providing that a special use may be passed at a county board meeting by a simple majority of the elected county board members, except that a written protest against any proposed special use that is either signed by the owners of at least 20 percent of the land to be rezoned, or signed by the owners of land immediately touching, or immediately across a street, alley, or public right-of-way from at least 20 percent of the perimeter of the land to be rezoned, or in cases where the land affected lies within 1.5 miles of the limits of a zoned municipality. It further provides that in those cases, a vote of three-fourths of all the members of the county board is required, but in counties where the county board consists of three members, only a two-thirds vote is required.
How funny that Mr. Sosnowski sponsors a House Bill on Special-Use Permits three months before a Special-Use Permit for the East State Street Quarry was filed, and now he has moved into a new, much larger house!
Mr. Sosnowski is running for re-election unopposed. I guess smiles and handshakes are all it takes these days, plus having the right connections. I urge the Democratic Party to come up with a viable (just breathing is good enough) opposition candidate by Election Day.
If not, I encourage Fox Ridge residents and everyone else to enter a “write-in” vote for someone Mr. Sosnowski should be familiar with — Mickey Mouse.
If you would like to comment directly to Mr. Sosnowski, please write him at his new asphalt-free home consisting of four bedrooms, 3.5 baths, and more than 3,000 square feet of lovely living space, 6153 Muirfield Lane, Rockford, Ill.
From the Jan. 11-17, 2012, issue