Two Public Hearings Set For Ethanol Plant

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The Rockford City Council moves forward with exploring what position it will take on the proposed ethanol plant. Throwing support to Wight Partners, the group behind the ethanol plant would not be unique. Last week, Winnebago Township leaders voted unanimously for the proposal along Meridian Road.

Over the next two weeks, some key decision makers will meet. Two major public hearings are sure to bring out opponents and supporters in full force. Tuesday night, the Winnebago County Zoning Board of Appeals meets and this is a very important board that has the power to approve a special use permit. Last month, Wight Partners re-filed for zoning changes to the site at 1951 South Meridian Road. The ZBA meets at 5 p.m. at Winnebago High School in the cafeteria. Basically this will seem like a trial. Lawyers representing Wight Partners and concerned citizens will cross examine witnesses.

The City of Rockford decided to hold a public hearing next Monday, March 13, 2006. The Codes and Regulations Committee will hear from both sides of the issue at 4:30 p.m. Rockford has an ordinance where any development within a mile and a half of the border must meet city standards.

Codes and Regulations Committee leader, Frank Beach says, "We reserve the right to look at developments to make sure when you develop any development meets the city of Rockford standards so some day when you come in when you annex in you annex in at the level that we have now."

After the ZBA meeting the full county board makes a final decision. The Rockford City Council as a whole also has the last say.