Plote Update 1

By Bob Balgemann


BELVIDERE – Questions about the 226-acre Plote Quarry on Town Hall Road surfaced at Wednesday night’s Boone County Board meeting. Discussion resulted as did a brief, verbal exchange between board Chairman Bob Walberg and District 3 board member Kenny Freeman.

At issue were updates on possible annexation by the city of Belvidere and the lawsuit filed by the county last year for Plote allegedly operating outside the allowable hours of 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Annexation brought the most discussion.

District 1 board member Sherry Giesecke said she was “a little bit perplexed” about why Plote would want to become part of Belvidere. Should that happen, she wondered how much tax revenue the county would lose.

About $30,000 a year, replied Chairman Walberg.

“What would they get when annexing to Belvidere that they don’t have being in the county?” Giesecke asked.

While no one had an immediate answer for that, District 3 board member Craig Schultz provided this insight later in the meeting.

“The reason is they don’t want to abide by the conditions we have imposed” on them, he said. “They don’t like to play by the rules. They aren’t good neighbors.”

Plote is operating under a new, five-year special use permit that expires March 31, 2019. It was approved June 18, 2014, in a 7-4 vote, with one abstention, of the county board. With that approval came numerous conditions, among them specific hours of operation.

District 2 board member Jeffrey Carlisle said annexation was discussed recently by the city-county coordinating committee. That is one of seven standing committees of the county board, consisting of five representatives from the county, including Carlisle, and five from Belvidere City Council.

He said the issue was in the pre-annexation stage and that one big hurdle was city boundaries aren’t close to the quarry. They must be contiguous with each other, he pointed out.

“It could be lose-lose,” he said. “The loss of revenue and representation in that area. It’s all subjective as to what it could do.”

“So it’s safe to say it’s not a done deal?” Giesecke asked.

“Yes,” answered committee Vice Chairman Cathy Ward, “It’s in the preliminary stages. The city will alert us when the (annexation) meetings occur.”

Belvidere Alderman and committee co-Chairman Dan Snow was in the audience and called on by Walberg to offer comment, if he wished to do so.

“Nothing has been brought before us as a city council,” Snow said. “It’s all the mayor (Mike Chamberlain). The bulk of the council (members) don’t know what’s happening.”

Lawsuit is ongoing

The county filed a lawsuit against Plote last year for allegedly operating outside allowable hours. That was lodged Aug. 21 by State’s Attorney Michelle Courier, after county building official Drew Bliss visited the property Aug. 12 and reported seeing a front-end loader moving aggregate at 7:06 p.m.

Earlier in the meeting Ward asked for an update on the now one-year-old litigation.

Courier replied that it had been transferred to a different judge now that Circuit Judge Rob Tobin had taken himself from the case. That will result in follow-up court sessions on various, related matters.

Later in the meeting Freeman wanted to know what prompted Judge Tobin to step aside. When he pressed for an answer, Walberg declared him out of order and said he should stop addressing the issue.

While Freeman countered that he had the floor and should be allowed to speak, Walberg retorted that a county board meeting was not the appropriate forum for such discussions.

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