The fertile crop land of the proposed ethanol plant has also been fertile land for heated debate. And now, west side Rockford Alderman Victory Bell wants to get the city involved, and makes it harder for the Winnebago County Board to approve the project.
Developers want to build an ethanol plant on about 60 acres of land on south meridian road, south of US 20 in Winnebago Township. Alderman Bell says the city does have a vested interest in the project because it's within Rockford’s territorial boundary.
Bell's objection - which he may introduce tonight - would be referred to committee. Should that committee and the majority of the full city council approve the objection, that action would force the county board to approve the rezoning by a super majority, or three quarters of its members.
Meanwhile, opinion is mixed from city and county representatives on how much weight the Alderman Bell's objection and a council resolution would hold.
"I'm not so sure the majority of the council would want to do that. I'm not sure there is support to object to the building or the zoning of the proposed ethanol plant," Rockford Alderman Jeff Holt said.
"A legal objection is nothing new for the city. They do that with most of the land within a mile and a half of city limits. Having an alderman do it maybe its unusual. Usually it's the planning commission that does it," Winnebago County Board Member Randy Olson said.
The Winnebago County zoning board of appeals will go over the proposed ethanol plant site next week. The earliest the county board could vote on the project would be March 23, though it probably will be laid over until their April meeting.