By Marianne Mueller


A standing room only crowd filled the Rockton Municipal Center on Thursday evening, June 16 where the Zoning Board of Appeals heard from residents, some holding, “No Asphalt Plant” signs.

Robert Shlichting is requesting to annex 45 acres to the village of Rockton to be zoned as Industrial Use on the property of the Rockton Rock Quarry at 11184 N. Main St.

Robert Calgaro – Attorney for the petitioner; Mr. Schlichting, and Steve Shawed were given permission to speak first.

“I have been manufacturing asphalt plants and have used annexation agreements through a Special Use 
Permit for the quarry since the ’60s. In 1973 this particular property was granted permission to be used as an asphalt plant,” said Shawed.

“We believe a continuation of the quarry will bring in sales tax revenues at $6 per ton of asphalt, said Attorney, Calgaro. This will bring in 25 part-time jobs. The county’s 2030 plan has a designated area for use. One of motivating factors behind the proposal is watching all of the trucks driving through Janesville.”

“I can speak to environmental issues,” said Shawed. “Today’s modern asphalt plants are much cleaner. They are all regulated by the state as far as emissions go. Eighty-three percent of prevailing winds blow north-northwest move away from Rockton. Shawed outlined the process of making asphalt from the first step of sealing to delivery. He addressed the noise issue, shared statistics and explained how the liquid is sealed in a tank.

“I know of a close by plant in Loves Park that had to truck materials,” said Schlicting and that is the reason they closed. If you have good quality business product, price and service it would make sense to keep those dollars in Winnebago County and the State of Illinois.”

Rockton Village Planning and Development Administrator, Tricia Diduch read three letters, all in opposition of the proposed plant. Each cited reasons of noise pollution, devaluing of property values and future health issues that could arise.

The problems associated with asphalt plants is mind blowing, said Ken Wulf. He pleaded, “It is vital that a high quality of life is provided. By allowing asphalt plant things will be taken in the wrong direction.

“High blood pressure, breathing problems, asthma, cancer, central nervous system and liver problems has been known to happen when people live around these plants. Unfortunately we did not get the same notice these gentlemen did. We are already sitting on radon gas in this area. My wife has emphysema and colon cancer.

“Highview in the Woodlands senior care is nearby, and we do not need this with our schools and homes in the Woodlands. Dogs are also very susceptible. I was not under the impression that Rockton was broke. It is more important that residents are happy and healthy.

“You have done a terrific job. If this type of things is going to continue, I encourage you to carefully consider your vote.” Supportive applause arose following Wulf’s comments.

Barb Dustin lives next door to the proposed plant.

“My husband has terminal cancer, and I would like to keep him around as long as I can. Fume oil, and fuel from vehicles by federal law, must be in underground tanks or in berms. How do we know the laws will be followed this time if not in the past? These are considered carcinogens, which can cause symptoms such as insomnia.

“This will affect everyone in Rockton. Effects of emissions will be a detriment to our gardens and schools.  A fine aerosol is emitted which is the most difficult of air pollution problems. Hot tar produces odors.

“A plant should not be built next to residential areas. This should be in an industrial area. All houses in the area have second systems or wells. Noise levels are not deemed appropriate for premises. Dust particles can escape for a distance of two miles. Please do not grant him the Special Use Permit,” pleaded Dustin.

“I would like to point out that there is a dog park right across the street,” said Prosser Kennett. “You will be looking at a loss of revenue if people do not walk their dogs anymore.”

“Some prevailing winds come from the west and southwest and will blow over our schools,” said Gary Forberg. I live in the Summit subdivision which is made up predominantly of senior citizens. He addressed Mr. Schlichting. “Why would you bestow the benefits of your neighbors on us? Some committee members in the village are in favor of the plant. How about looking for another form of work?”

“I just want to get some facts on the condos we all live in,” said Mark Limke. “University Parkway, the Woodlands, the Rockton Athletic Fields and Settlers Park are in within walking distance. What would happen in the future? Just south of this project is Rockford Blacktop where they get there asphalt from.”

The President of the Summit Condo Association reported that 62 no votes were taken against the plant coming in.

“Will this be built anyway or is it just going to be a different meeting that we have to go to?” asked Pam Eucker. “We all have to have business in Rockton. Has the board gone in and calculated tax revenue. What did I miss as far as notification of this meeting? Hopefully sometime in the future something this huge will reach outside of posting on the door.

Diduch responded, “We posted the meeting in the Legal notices in a local paper.”

Scott Lanz asked, “Have you looked at the traffic part of this? Are you familiar with that intersection of the road? A traffic study needs to be done,” Lanz urged.

“The traffic is horrible, and I am wondering if you have even run this by your fire department. There is a lot of extra training required. How many trucks go in and out of there at dark?

“They would have to put some limitations on hours of operation if the proposal goes through. What are we going to do when we start seeing people getting sick?”

“I worked at Rockford Blacktop for eight years. Our property values will be going down. If all of these people move out the Village will be missing the revenues generated from them living here,” said a local resident.

“I cannot tell you how many times I have almost been hit by those trucks,” said Sindi Bonnell.

“When they bought this quarry Mr. Porter bought 10 acres of land that could be zoned for the sale of asphalt. It was brought in from the county and delivered. Many complaints arose with no acknowledgement for years,” shared Mark Bonnell.

Another resident said, “You are not just talking about asphalt; you are thinking about lives. Please give real thought before voting or you will lose all of these people money; their money, not his.”

“I live by the middle school. I saw this letter dropped off and anonymously posted on facebook which is how I found out about this meeting,” said Brendan Caver. I just found out about this today, and we have a problem with the way this is all happening. This is Chicago politics.”

Zoning member, Gordy Pierson advised that Caver to stick to the subject.

“There has been no traffic study, and no environmental study. I do not know what this will do to the groundwater. They want to come out here, and it is not what the people want,” Caver concluded.

“I moved to Rockton because you have done a phenomenal job. I understand all of the roles that everyone plays. I represent the Rockton Coalition against the Asphalt Plant,” said Justin York. “We already have 270 members. We all want the tax money to come to Rockton. I ask that you take your time in making a decision.

“I have a two and a seven year old, and I will leave Rockton in a heartbeat.”

York presented information on environmental code of practice for asphalt plants. Diduch asked to review the document.

“We are not elected officials; we are all appointed and giving our time,” said Zoning Board member Tom Polaski. “It is in our best interest to table the discussion until more is learned about the subject.”

The next meeting of the Zoning Board of Appeals is on July 14.

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