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‘An issue of property owner rights’

Published: Friday, Dec. 14, 2012 3:33 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, Dec. 14, 2012 3:34 p.m. CDT

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I’m a volunteer with Block RICL and young area farmer. Recently, vandals damaged my property by breaking off my Block RICL sign and leaving it at a fellow volunteer’s lane. I wish these people would put their energy into learning about the Block RICL cause. Block RICL is a large and growing grass roots group who opposes a private company — Rock Island Clean Line’s proposed erection of power lines across Illinois private property for their profit.

I’m a landowner who would lose farmable ground to access roads and 200-foot towers with at least 28-square-foot, foot prints. RICL wants 200-foot wide easements across my business forever. If privately owned RICL gets the Illinois Commerce Commission to grant them public utility status, as they have applied for under Docket # 12-0560, they will then be able to apply for eminent domain, meaning they would seize part of my farming business for the good of the public. This proposed project will not benefit Illinoisans and 10 eastern governors have stated to Congress they don’t wish to buy expensive western energy as they want to develop their own in-state energy using Federal Clean Energy Act stimulus money. What public will benefit from this private business venture by men from Texas and New York?

In the meantime, a taxpaying businessman that helps feed the world would lose his property. Some of my land would be unusable for food production for perpetuity and surrounding farmable land would be impacted by soil compaction, weed issues, and drainage, GPS and aerial spraying disruption. My land value would depreciate affecting the county’s tax base and shifting the burden to others. Furthermore I would be liable for towers and disruption of electricity if damaged making them uninsurable. Would you want to have that liability forced on you or have your private property seized?

This is an issue of property owner rights. Why doesn’t RICL use existing right-a-ways along railroads or highways if their claim to be necessary and safe to the public’s health is true? Why take a route across farmable private land? There is more to the story, and I encourage you to become informed. Block RICL has a website. I would hope you will look into this cause further and address me personally if you have issue with my beliefs.

Jeff Stevenson, Block RICL volunteer


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