Planning and zoning department recommends denial

Marianne Gillespie

The Peoria County Planning and Zoning Department recommends denial of special-use permits allowing Mossville Land Investments LLC to build a mineral extraction facility.

That information came through the department’s staff report on the proposed 222-acre facility, located at 14728 Old Galena Road.

Included is a lengthy objection from Medina Township officials.

In an eight-page letter from township supervisor John Dawson, he noted the township board unanimously voted in opposition of the project.

“The township is prepared to formally oppose these applications in any way legally appropriate (including legal action) for health, safety, financial, convenience and historical reasons, as well as to protect the expectations of the many landowners who have resided in this area for many years,” he wrote.

“Most notably, any interference with the Sankoty aquifer (of which its waters will be utilized during any potential gravel pit operations) directly influences the health and well-being of the citizens of Medina Township.”

State Sen. Dale Risinger (R-Peoria) and state Rep. Dave Leitch (R-Peoria) also wrote a letter in opposition of the proposed gravel pit, agreeing with both Medina Township officials’ objections, and those of the Illinois Department of Transportation.

“We recently worked to acquire signage marking the historic significance of Galena Trail, the oldest trail in Illinois still traveled today,” the letter read. “This should not be sacrificed for a gravel pit.

“We also share IDOT’s concerns. The gravel pit would require a significant new engineering expense and alignment to reconfigure the planned widening of Route 29. It is not in the public interest to repeat this process.”

Joe Crowe, IDOT deputy director of highways, region three engineer, wrote a letter stating that the proposed gravel pit would be in “direct conflict with our future Illinois Route 29 expansion plans.”

Crowe noted that the public commented on preliminary alignments in June 2003 and July 2004, with the final alignment presented in June 2006, and a “record of decision expected this winter.”

“During our extensive public involvement process, the department did not receive any comments or concerns with the alignments associated with a mining operation on the said parcels of land.”

He said the eventual 200-acre lake, up to 100 feet deep, would impact about 4,000 feet of IDOT’s proposed alignment.

“This impact will cause a significant delay in finalizing our planning and environmental documents, as well as greatly increase the design and construction costs. Ultimately, the entire alignment south of Chillicothe may have to be reconfigured to avoid the future lake.”

Crowe asked that the special use request be denied or amended to avoid the “future roadway improvements.”

Dawson also noted IDOT’s concerns and local road deterioration.

The Peoria County Highway Department noted that the facility would need a commercial entrance. Officials also asked if the applicants had furnished information about if the road can handle the extra traffic and how to fix the county roads as they bear more use.

Township officials also contend that the Old Galena Trail and Coach Road is one of the oldest roads in the Midwest and is also linked with Abraham Lincoln.

The Galena Trail Committee of Peoria County is making efforts to have signs identifying the trail.

Under economic impacts, township officials expressed concerns over its current residents, future residents and the tax base.

“Within roughly one-half mile of the proposed gravel pit are numerous, new subdivisions full of residents whose livelihoods will be influenced by noise, dust, traffic and other potential hazards of living near a gravel pit,” Dawson wrote. “It is safe to assume that if those current residents stay in these subdivisions, they will likely recommend to those considering a move to nearby areas to avoid the area completely. This is even assuming any developer wishes to further subdivide areas if the pit is constructed.”

Environmentally speaking, Dawson wrote township officials are concerned about contamination of the Sankoty acquifer.

“The township understands any operations involving the gravel pit will include mining down to the aquifer, so its water can serve as a conduit for the company to extract gravel through a dredging process,” Dawson wrote. Listed concerns were about failures or breakdowns of equipment near the water, airborne contamination and ground-based contamination.

Also noted was the adjacent Buckeye Terminal, which houses petrochemicals and serves as a pipeline for the Midwest.

Also included by Medina Townships officials were photos of nearby properties and homes, including St. Joseph’s Mooney Cemetery and La Salle Cemetery on Rome West Road; video of Rome West Road and the cemeteries, as well as video of Galena Road Gravel Inc.’s operation and truck traffic; a letter asking for Galena Trail and Coach Roads as designations; and Peoria City Council meeting minutes from May 2007 about the Galena Trail Committee of Peoria County and its efforts.

The Peoria City/County Health Department found no problems with the proposed facility, but also stated that permits or licenses from the department still must be “individually evaluated.”

With two special permits requested, due to zoning in both agriculture and industrial, the planning and zoning department released two staff reports with recommendations of denial.

The staff listed as positives approval gained from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources regarding endangered species and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency regarding water pollution control.

Under the agricultural land use, a third positive was that the Land Evaluation and Site Assessment Survey had a low rating for protection.

The listed negatives were inconsistency with the Chillicothe Small Area Plan and Peoria County Land Use Plan and with “the residential and agricultural community character immediately adjacent to the subject parcel;” light impact on transportation system; impact of 4,000 feet of the proposed Illinois Route 29 expansion; reliance on private well and septic; and that almost 176 acres will no longer be available for agriculture.

Mossville Land Investments LLC, comprised of Stan Maxheimer and Joe LaHood, is asking for a continuance of its original date for a Peoria County Zoning Board of Appeals hearing Thursday to allow for an environmental impact study to be completed. The continuance will be approved or denied that day.