It was an announcement that no one expected. Late this afternoon Wight Partners withdrew its application to rezone land as heavy industrial for an ethanol plant.
This Wednesday the Zoning Board of Appeals was supposed to make a major decision. It was in the ZBA’s hands to decide if 59 acres on South Meridian would be changed from residential to heavy industrial.
In a press release, Vice-President of Wight Partners John Goebel said, "Due to concerns and questions raised at last Tuesday's Public Information meeting and technical issues with the current application, we felt it would be best to withdraw the application and refile."
23 News has learned that there was a technicality on the land description. Now Wight will need to file a whole new application. It's a small victory for "ICE" or Informed Citizens Engaged.
ICE member, Wendy Schneider says, "We're very pleased. Apparently someone is listening to concerns. I believe we informed them more on Tuesday night then they were informing the public."
But Wight disagrees saying there is considerable misinformation circulating among the public. More time would not only provide Wight a chance to get the facts straight but a group of concerned citizens wouldn't have to race against the clock to educate the community. Their newest tool is the internet. On www.norezone.net you can learn about the group and sign an online petition.
Schneider states, "Everyone in the county should be interested in this look at the website, call us we are looking for volunteers. We want you to have the information not a sales pitch."
Members meet nightly to swap information, brainstorm strategies and actively look for a new site. Schneider tells 23 News, "We're interested in working with them to find alternative locations for this type of facility."
Otherwise an ethanol plant would be the first of its kind in an area that has been nothing but home sweet home to several rural residential subdivisions. Once Wight re-files it will take at least 4 to 6 weeks before the Zoning Board of Appeals would be involved. Even though this Wednesday's ZBA meeting has been postponed, ICE says they may still hold an informational rally at Winnebago High School. We'll let you know about that as soon as we get the details.