Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Small Victory for my Neighborhood



About 2 years ago, I rallied with many of my neighbors when we learned that a conditional use permit for a new gravel pit was being processed by our county. The more we learned about this proposed land use, the more alarmed we became. We began attending the various hearings and testimonies being presented to the officials here--and we turned out in pretty good numbers, filling the rooms and just watching the proceedings--sometimes being allowed to ask questions. Experts were presented to address issues of vehicle traffic, dust, noise, water quality, environmental impact, loss of prime farm land acreage...all pretty big deals when you live in the immediate vicinity of such a big undertaking.

I put a big sign up on our farm here, near the road, that changed regularly - notifying neighbors driving by of the time and place various meetings and hearings would happen. We held neighborhood meetings at one locals' home to plot strategies. We were, truth be told, pretty scared given the high powered legal team this company had working the system for them, plus our county's history of supporting many projects like this.

In the end, the 7 member county commission sided with us and denied the permit for the gravel pit...we could hardly believe it and yet, it was a unanimous decision against the gravel pit! But that wasn't the end of the story. The gravel company sued our county to overturn the decision. For the past 2 years, this has dragged through the courts. At this level, it was completely out of the hands of the neighbors or, for that matter, of the county except for their legal representation.

Well just tonight I opened the paper and much to my surprise--the court has sided with the county's decision to deny the permit-which means it sided with our neighborhood!! What did we avoid? Up to 400 trips by large gravel trucks driving past our homes every day, unbelievable amounts of dust and noise, and possible contamination of our aquifer (from which our wells draw water.)

I'm so happy and grateful that this threat to our neighborhood has been put to rest!! Had it been approved, it really would have changed the character of the beautiful countryside I live in. The population around our area has more than doubled since I was a youngster growing up around here. The traffic has increased noticeably and there are many more homes around here. I guess this is inevitable, given that we're barely an hour out of Chicago, yet we still have a rural feeling in our part of the county and agriculture and some livestock are still important industries.

Chances are good that it's just a matter of time before the next development project comes along. In fact, it's probably inevitable...but at least for now, there's still peace in the valley.

23 comments:

Shinade aka Jackie said...

Good for you! This is quite a victory. I have been all over the state of Illinois and seen just how large some of these pits are.

I am so happy for you and your neighborhood. We have the oil and gas people to fight in this state.

That fight is literally impossible right now with the economy.

Luckily we live about three miles down into the cove and are not bothered by the trucks and the drilling.

But, we never know when they may come knocking on the door and want to drill right in our own yard.

We are in Oklahoma and the oil men rule.

I simply love your photos. What marvelous shots and you know I really love the reflective shot in the pond!!

What a victory!! Yay for you!!:-)

askcherlock said...

You fought a good fight. Good for you! We all need to become more involved in the decisions regarding our communities.

RE Ausetkmt said...

That is something to Be Proud of.
you helped the environment, the world and mankind.

May the Rain always Fall Gentle and the Sunshine always Smile on WillOaks Farm.

Keiara Wells said...

Wow! Good for you and your neighbours for standing up for the neighbourhood and not giving up. Congratulations to all of you! xox

Julehya said...

When people draw strenght on their collective powers and determination, there is no way they would lose. You put up a good fight and you won. Congratulations!

Lin said...

Yea! So you can fight city hall!! Hooray for you (and your neighbors)!

Dori said...

What a wonderful victory for your community there, the environment, and the whole world! Well done! Reading this story has made my day....long live people power :-)

Icy BC said...

Congratulation on your victory against this gravel pit company. That 400 hundred trips a day passing through the neighborhood is quite a scare..

There are awards waiting for you on my blog..

Dorothy L said...

Congrats on that succession. As you said it is inevitable....but we do things one day at a time and embrace each of those days.

I love the reflection you have captured in your photo..it is absolutely a picture of serenity:)

Hot Rocks said...

Congratulations, you must be very proud!

Ann said...

Congratulations to you, your neighbors and the community. Wonderful victory. It's nice to hear that large company's don't always win

Grampy said...

That is a tough battle. I am glad you won. Keep your eye on things so nothing slips through. Good Job.
Have a good weekend.

Theresa said...

Great to hear about the victory for the community. Nice to see the "little guy" winning one for a change.

Anna said...

I am so happy for your community! It is so difficult to battle city hall and the big businesses!

We lost our battle and the three neighboring cities have sided together and are putting in an expressway exchange that will cause the drainage of wetlands right outside our neighborhood. I fear this will not only damage the wildlife in the area (Great Grey Herons, deer, owls, hawks, etc), but it could very well cause enormous flooding in our neighborhood!

PJ said...

that is a huge victory, congratulations! it would be awful to have some stinkin ole trucks kicking up all that dust around an area as beautiful as yours. they need to just back off and find somewhere else to go.

love your photos, but that isn't anything new...hehehe

have a great day my friend, much love to you!

Poetic Shutterbug said...

It's all about community and sometimes in big cities we fall short. Congrats to you.

WillOaks Studio said...

Thanks so much for all these very lovely and encouraging remarks!! The neighborhood folks can hardly believe how lucky we were...this time around! We aren't "anti-development" by any means...but our area just wasn't built to handle such a huge intrusion on any level so we feel very fortunate that this "pit", as it came to be called, was not allowed in here!! Lots of folks get the credit because we all pitched in as best we could to reach this end. People power indeed!

koe whitton-williams said...

sounds like a huge victory. Congratulations.

Nancy said...

Wow, that's amazingly inspiring to hear a story where development is denied, especially so close to the city in favor of the preservation of all of your points. Does it mean that some officials are finally listening to the consciences and what the people want?

WillOaks Studio said...

That's a great question, Nancy. I think we managed to overwhelm them only for now. Gravel IS needed for development around here. It's claimed that there is a very rich "vein" in the area they were applying to dig. I have to think at best, this was a postponement only. But we'll enjoy it while we can!

Dr. Lauren said...

I am so glad to see you had success with this. I imagine this situation would be highly aggravating in a such a peaceful landscape. I mean, that's why people live there, to avoid bis business and traffic.

Shinade aka Jackie said...

I am stopping to wish you a happy week. thank you dropping by everyday while i was having technical difficulties!

Buggys said...

Wow, what a coup for the little guy! Congratulations! I'm sure your whole neighborhood is elated.

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