By Marianne Mueller


Fresh on the heels of voicing strong opposition at the Rockton Zoning Board of Appeals meeting residents flooded into the Municipal Center for the June 21 Rockton Village board meeting. The main focus revolved around a proposal to bring an asphalt plant to the area.

Robert Schlichting is requesting to annex 42 acres to the village of Rockton to be zoned as Industrial Use on the property of the Rockton Rock Quarry and is asking to be granted a special use permit.

Village President Dale Adams informed everyone, “We are not going to take any action or to discuss the subject of the asphalt plant. It will be on the agenda for the next Zoning board meeting on July 15. Fifteen concerned citizens addressed the board.

“Thank you for serving in this capacity. I have served on non-for profits and in fiduciary roles, which comes with a lot of responsibility. Your decision on this issue will affect many,” said Daniel Hazzard.

“I own 72 acres close to where the plant is being proposed. We were not notified that this was happening. Something of this nature needs to see who is being benefited by the project, or who is being hurt.

“I live in Roscoe and can easily see property values drop. I am just one little person who will be affected by this.”

“I live 10 feet from the property line,” said Barb Gustin. “We were told that there would be little emissions and he felt our concerns weren’t justified. This will be extremely noisy; it already is. There is no way to contain the smells or the little particles that escape. We do exist and we do matter. We will suffer the most.”

“I am an educator who lives in the Woodlands. I have done a brief amount of research,” said Susan Rifenbery-Lowrie. “Cancer causing chemicals are loaded into air.

Rifenbery-Lowrie listed other potential health hazards. “Stephen Mack Middle School is in the path of toxic fumes. This is where children play and drink the water. We don’t know the long-term impacts. Consider the children and think back to Detroit and issues they had with the water there.”

Mark Bonnell presented images to the Rockton Village Board. “The location of the asphalt plant is just 300 ft. from my house. What happens if the wells get affected? A wind survey shows the direction of winds going from south to southwest. This is going to be a huge problem, and our property taxes will be going down. Our roads are not wide enough,” said Bonnell.

“One hundred concerned residents attended to protest the plant at the last Zoning of Appeals meeting,” said Jerry Forberg. “Petitions against it have been signed and delivered. I dare say that this is a signal that the people of Rockton do not want this passed. It is simply too close to homes, and children. The plant will not enhance Rockton.”

Lou Tisovec inquired, “Where do I get information on this? There was no indication that this was up for discussion. The only frontage access is on Wagon Wheel Road.”

President Adams responded, “Tricia Diduch, the Village Planning and Development Administrator, and I are trying to arrange a meeting for all of you.”

“Your statement on tax values leads us to believe that even if there are no health issues we all perceive that there is a problem there that is not going to be covered. Are there any estimates for this tax benefit,” asked Mark Limke. “What are we going to gain? We have been waiting for road improvements for years. Why do we need this?”

It was noted by Dale Adams that $250,000 are set aside in the village budget to do the streets.

“Surfacing hot mixes come from the nearest place in Janesville or the south side of Rockford. Ninety percent of the time, the Rock Road Quarry is doing a very good job,” Adams said.

Charlene Shelton provided a list of some of the chemicals used in asphalt and read from a hot emissions fact sheet on low levels of asphalt fumes.

“Residents can be exposed including the elderly who may already have compromised immune systems. What happens when the control systems fail?”

Dawn Frank logged specific areas and quoted complaints of citizens all over the country who experienced health concerns from omitted odors of asphalt plants.” The citizens of this town do not want an asphalt plant and we do not want the smell.”

“Why do they want to annex into the Village or Rockton or were they asked? It had been previously stated that 5-10 full time employees and up to 25 possible employees may be hired to work at the asphalt plant, said Ava Emroll.

“They don’t come to a community to stay small. As this gets bigger and bigger, the problems are going to get worse. That is what BP said. Just look at how the village had to take Sonoco to court to get that property cleaned up.

“I am the President of the Macktown Estates Condo Association,” said Carl Valenti. “I have done the same study from Blue Ridge as Dawn. Ten years ago I barely survived Leukemia. My wife and some of our closest friends have also had cancer. There is always something poisoning us. Why is this even being considered?”

“I am a new resident of two and a half years,” said Elaine Malley. “I also have grandchildren and this is very concerning to me. I know taxes are important but our health and the health of our children are more important.”

“Rockford Blacktop was on Forest Hills Road, south of Forest Hills Country Club. The smell was strong and the particles traveled. We had a red brick tri-level that had to be painted frequently,” said Norma Linderoth. “We also had to wash the dog and other parts of our property. Protect the people of Rockton and pledge to listen to the people who are here. “

“I called Springfield. The EPA is not doing a lot of monitoring,” said Ken Wulf. “I asked about sewer and water. If they needed to they could chose to go with Winnebago County. The Special Use Permit must not be granted if it is detrimental to the health, and welfare of all who live here. A big financial analysis needs to be done.”

Village Trustee, Dave Winters opened the new business portion of the meeting by saying, “I cannot and will not support the asphalt plant, even if the consensus is to support it.”

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