Board Approves Railroad for Meridian Road Ethanol Plant

By: Tina Stein
By: Tina Stein

These are tale-tell signs that some neighbors living near Meridian and Kelly Roads aren't happy an ethanol plant is going up. But it's not just the 110-gallon facility that irks them, they're now angry a 75-car railroad is being built as well, turning their once quaint neighborhood into what some call an industrial park.

"There's gonna be a lot of noise a lot of pollution and a lot of disturbed families over this," says Sandy Harkonen, who lives near the site.

But others are pleased to have the plant and railroad near by. The President of the Winnebago County Farm Bureau works just an eye-shot away and says he'd rather have rail traffic than more trucks on the road.

"If they could handle cars and uni trains and it should be able to get more for their product and that means they could pay more on the inputs too which means more dollars for Winnebago county farmers," says Earl Williams, President of the Farm Bureau.

Reasons why plant builder Wight Group says they want to get started and put all the bickering behind them.

"We are absolutely committed to working with the neighbors and resolve that situation I just spoke with their attorney Faye Lyon you heard speak in there and we're very committed to working towards that end of things," says Edgar Reilly, General Council for Wight Group.

A group of homeowners who live around the plant's site filed a lawsuit against Wight partner's to block the plant, which Wight counter sued for 3-million dollars for interfering with their contract.

Both lawsuits are pending. The plant site will now be about 55 acres larger than the 60 acres they originally secured. The plant will cost about 144-million dollars to build.

Construction on the plant was originally supposed to start last summer. No word yet on when they'll get started as of now.


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