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Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2007 02:15 am

It’s a wrap

Lodge tortilla-plant idea is off the table

Untitled Document A group of residents in the small town of Lodge secured a win this week in their fight against plans for new corn mill when the Piatt County zoning board approved a different location.
The residents feared that the 45,000-square-foot facility and a lagoon for wastewater storage might cause air, noise, and light pollution and set a precedent for industrial projects in the mostly rural county [see R.L. Nave, “Tortilla flap,” July 19]. Lynn Clarkson, head of Clarkson Grain, one of the companies participating in the plant, told zoning officials on Tuesday that the Lodge petition would be withdrawn if they approved an alternative site near White Heath.
For the next three-and-a-half hours, White Heath opponents expressed concerns similar to those articulated by the Lodge citizens group, including the potential for foul odors and damage to the area’s water resources. The zoning board ultimately moved to recommend approval to the Piatt County Board with several conditions, including adherence to environmental regulations and keeping traffic noise and lighting to a minimum.
Tenna Knox, who owns the land that was first proposed as the site of the plant, says that she’s disappointed but not upset at the outcome.
“We were paid for this year. We have not lost anything,” Knox says. “We came out financially ahead.”
Knox and her husband, Phil, are on vacation and did not attend the meeting, but she says that Clarkson informed her earlier that the White Heath site was more favorable to the company because fewer people live in the area.
“I think the zoning board sent a message with their unanimous vote: This is an agricultural community and if it’s agricultural they are not going to deny it,” Knox says. Knox has said all along that if approval was not given to the corn mill she and her husband would instead raise pigs, for which they would not need approval. Neighbors previously expressed that such a move would be vindictive. However, Angie Wrench, who lives near the Lodge site and grew up on a hog farm, says that she can live with the pigs. “We’re in the country, so you expect that kind of thing,” Wrench says.

Contact R.L. Nave at rnave@illinoistimes.com
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