Piatt County Board clears way for corn-processing plant

Piatt County Board clears way for corn-processing plant

MONTICELLO – A group of Sangamon Township homeowners in Piatt County say they will not stop protesting plans for the Clarkson Grain/El Milagro corn-processing plant at White Heath.

The Piatt County Board granted a special-use permit to Clarkson Grain on Tuesday that greenlights the $20 million plant.

The attorney for the unhappy homeowners, Jon Robinson of Decatur, said the proposed corn-processing plant "is a nonconforming, inconsistent use, located next to valuable residences."

Robinson said the Sangamon group he represents has requested a review of the decision and will continue to fight the plant with litigation, if necessary.

"We are looking at our options," Robinson said. "Regardless of what is available, we will probably eventually end up in (Illinois) Circuit Court."

The Piatt County Board voted 5-1 Tuesday to confirm the recommendation of the Piatt County Zoning Board of Appeals, which unanimously approved the project two weeks ago.

County board member Jerry Brazelton voted against the plant.

While the county board offered slight variations of the conditions requested by the zoning board, county board member Sharon Martin said the special-use permit could easily be revoked if the plant fails to control odors or expands beyond designs in the agreement.

In addition to odor regulations, the zoning board requested: paved parking lots and roadways, limiting noise and light at the plant and drawing only from the Mahomet Aquifer.

The county board acknowledged the plant will build wells to monitor water in the wastewater lagoon.

To satisfy concerns about odor from the lagoon, Martin cited research on ways to measure odor levels. Comparable to noise pollution, the county board will oversee the plant's odor management.

Clarkson Grain President Lynn Clarkson said he's pleased by the board's action.

"I think the county board made a good decision," he said.

"We hope that in a couple of years the people of Sangamon Township recognize us as a good corporate citizen," said Clarkson Grain General Manager Rick Bucker.

The plant will bring 30 jobs to the county initially with an additional 15 possible if the plant adds a second production line. A construction date has not been set, Brucker said.

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