Lawmakers Urge Oakwood Hills To Reopen Village Hall
CHICAGO (CBS) – Two state lawmakers have called for a tiny village in McHenry County to reopen its government offices and get back to work.
WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports Oakwood Hills officials have suspended operations at the Village Hal until further notice, after alleged threats from opponents of a plan to build a natural gas power plant in the town.
State Rep. David McSweeney (R-Barrington Hills), however, said there has been no evidence of threats, noting a Northwest Herald report that village officials confirmed there is no documentation of the alleged threat to any village official or employee after the newspaper filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
“Anyone who has made a threat should be prosecuted, but according to the FOIA, and according to the McHenry County State’s Attorney, there is no documentation of any specific threats to any officials,” he said.
McSweeney and state Sen. Dan Duffy (R-Lake Barrington) have contacted Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, asking her to get Oakwood Hills administrative offices reopened and operating, and to reexamine plans for the proposed natural gas plant.
Some residents have teamed up in an effort to stop plans for a $450 million natural gas power plant in Oakwood Hills. Opponents have expressed concerns about the plant’s potential effect on property values, and that water usage from the deep water aquifer that supplies the village’s drinking water could hit 600,000 gallons a day – or about 300 gallons per resident – to supply the water needed to run the plant.
Duffy said it appears village officials are simply reluctant to discuss the power plant issue with residents.
“Something smells bad in this whole situation. Village officials seem to be pushing this proposal for a power plant facility very hard, and trying to get it approved without answering questions from the constituents in the neighborhood,” he said.
The senator said village officials owe it to residents to get back to work.
“If there haven’t been any threats, then the village trustees and the village officials should have to get back to work,” Duffy said. “I mean, they’re being paid right now to work, and they’re not being paid to close down the facility and ignore requests and questions that are coming in from residents about this power plant.”
Duffy said questions about the proposed plant’s proximity to a school, and use of the village’s water supply must be addressed before the facility is approved.
A website promoting the proposed Oakwood Hills Energy Center said the power will help the region to transition from coal and nuclear energy to clean natural gas and renewable energy. The village also would receive a $1.3 million hosting fee, and $500,000 of new property tax revenue, according to the Northwest Herald.
Developers hope to get preliminary approval from the village next month, and final approval from the village and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency by Fall 2015. If that happens, construction could begin by Winter 2015, and be completed by Summer 2018.