Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merryman is right to resist City

Much as I hate siding with Merryman Aggregate in its resistance to (or rejection of) the desires of the City of Woodstock to fiddle with the Ordinance by which the City approved a gravel pit two years ago, after reading the December 2nd Plan Commission Minutes and today's article in the Northwest Herald (, I'm going to have to take up with Merryman.

First though, Merryman should abide by the conditions in the Special Use Permit. That would mean no early hours' movement of noisy trucks on its site, ensuring that loads are tarped before leaving the property (state law, may not be a Condition), no dumping of outside fill without permission, keeping Lily Pond Road clean, etc.) and resolving other reasonable complaints from the neighbors, who seem to be keeping a closer eye on activity than City employees.

In October, as I recall, the City Council told the City staff to report on what's going on. That report was prepared and submitted to the City. The Plan Commission met on December 2. Minutes of that long meeting can be read at the Woodstock Public Library or City Hall in the packet for the December 21st City Council meeting.

When two parties make a deal, it is only fair for each to rely on the terms of the deal, unless they can agree to change it. The City is trying to jam changes down the throat of Merryman Aggregate. Merryman is right to object and resist.

The Plan Commission Minutes report the Mayor's words to calm tempers and soothe feelings. I may have to make another trip to the Library to read again what he said. As I recall, it was along the lines of "Play nice, everyone."

According to the Northwest Herald this morning, “'I think it’s incumbent upon municipalities to constantly be reviewing various agreements that are made with individuals or developers that are aggressively pursuing projects in the city,' Mayor Brian Sager said.

"He said the review was part of protocol and planning to ensure that projects were proceeding on time and that all terms of the agreement were met.

“'It was part of the normal review process that we did that in the first place,'” Sager said.

No, municipalities cannot "constantly be reviewing various agreements", if they think they can just try to change them and add restrictions. Also, the review done in October was not part of the "normal review" that the City did before it rushed through Ordinance 08-O-79. October's review was caused by neighboring residents' complaints.

There are many problems with that whole deal. The Plan Commission thinks that Merryman is trying to distance itself from the stadium deal. Financing for the baseball stadium isn't showing up. The U.S. Corps of Engineers is protecting the wetlands, which must have been identified before the deal even went to the table. The veterans' treatment/care center talk seems to have evaporated. There are mountains of dirt to rival the Rockies. Is the groundwater at risk? Is Merryman extracting below the top of the water table, whereas it was not to encroach within two feet of the water table (as I recall)?

Some chatter about a Metra station is included now; where did that come from? The possible Metra station is at Ridgefield, isn't it? Does the City now think there might be a second Metra stop between Crystal Lake and Woodstock? Metra needs riders to consider a stop. No riders; no stop.

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