Guest Column: Something rotten in Pecatonica

By Rob Stone
Organic Gardner and Beekeeper

My name is Rob Stone, and I reside in Winnebago County. I went to the Pecatonica Village president with a complaint about farming and/or spraying chemicals in a residential setting or zoned R1.

The chemicals and pesticides I am referring to are restricted-use types applied by certified applicators or people working under the direct supervision of a certified applicator. These applications took place a few feet from our children’s swing set and sandbox.

The reason I went to the village president is the landowner of the 1 acre (plus or minus) has a daughter who happens to be a village trustee for Pecatonica. I figured she would want to stay out of the issue. We did contact her, with little success.

I was told by the village president the complaint would be reviewed by the village attorney, and no farming would be done until a decision was made. I did contact the village several times to find out if anything was decided about the complaint. I also attended regular meetings to monitor the situation.

At a special meeting, there was a zoning classification on the agenda that somehow made it OK for them to not contact us and keep us informed about the progress of the complaint and spray the field with who knows what for the second time. Don’t we have a right to know?

The property in question is no longer 5.5 acres, as it shows in the old annexation agreement. There were three lots sold a few years back, decreasing the size of the parcel.

I am appealing to the Pecatonica Zoning Board of Appeals. If you’re from Pecatonica and dislike the idea of large commercial spraying near your home and the Pecatonica High School, give your village trustee a call about it.

This ground hasn’t had a crop on it for six years or more. The farmer, whom I have met and have respect for, could lose the crop because of possible neglect with this complaint.

We are organic with the respect to occasional thistle spot spraying as outlined in our farm operating plan on file with the Winnebago County Farm Service Agency. We have three beehives and don’t know how this will affect the hives’ welfare. We believe the neighborhood’s air quality and well water are in jeopardy as well.

We wish to protect our children’s environmental health. Children may be more vulnerable to environmental exposures than adults because:

Their bodily systems are still developing;

They eat more, drink more and breathe more in proportion to their body size;

Their behavior can expose them more to chemicals and organisms; and

Pesticides and insecticides are toxic by nature.

We had a legitimate concern and went to the village to address this issue, and feel we were railroaded by being caught in small-town politics.

Rob Stone is an organic farmer and beekeeper in Pecatonica, Ill.

From the July 4-10, 2012, issue

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