July 12--Lincolnshire recently joined the growing number of officials in Lake County who have raised concerns over the proposed Foxconn plant in southern Wisconsin and the effect manufacturing operations there may have on the Des Plaines River.
During a meeting earlier this week, Lincolnshire trustees approved a non-binding resolution that asks the state of Wisconsin to reconsider previous actions that waived environmental studies and regulations related to the proposal from the Taiwan-based maker of liquid-crystal displays, which involves materials used in some flat-screen TVs.
The village's resolution takes aim at the potential environmental effects the large Foxconn plant, which is slated to take over nearly 17 acres of wetlands at a site in Mount Pleasant, Wis., west of Racine, may have on the Des Plaines River that flows through numerous Lake County communities, including Lincolnshire.
Overall, the proposed $10 billion factory panel plant, which has attracted national headlines, could take up as much as 22 million square feet and employ up to 13,000 workers, officials have said.
With the first phase of construction expected to start in 2019, the Foxconn plant is set to occupy wetlands that feed into a tributary to the Des Plaines River, potentially leading to more flooding in towns south of the plant, Lincolnshire officials said in board documents detailing the resolution.
Even though some Lincolnshire trustees acknowledged the resolution doesn't require any legal recourse, others said they needed to pass something to formally voice concerns over the proposal.
"I'm concerned about the flooding," said Trustee Dan Servi, who supported the village's resolution.
But Trustee Tom McDonough said he voted against the resolution.
"It's nonbinding and doesn't mean anything," he said. "The project is already announced and underway."
Flooding issues related to the Des Plaines River have long been a concern in Lincolnshire, which experienced record flooding in neighborhoods near the river following heavy storms in the summer of 2017.
By approving the resolution, Lincolnshire joined a growing group of officials in Lake County who have raised issues with the environmental effects that the proposed Foxconn plant may create.
In early June, the Lake County Board approved a similar worded resolution that asked Wisconsin officials to reconsider decisions that waived environmental regulations for the Taiwan-based manufacturer.
At the time, Lake County Board Chairman Aaron Lawlor said the resolution made an important statement.
He noted that air and water pollution doesn't conform to political boundaries, and federal and state decisions to reduce air pollution standards in five southeastern Wisconsin counties -- along with decisions to allow special regulatory treatment and diversion of Lake Michigan water -- will affect air quality, increase flooding, and cause other ecological impacts from the proposed Foxconn development.
Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (left), President Donald Trump, Foxconn Technology Chairman Terry Gou and House Speaker Paul Ryan break ground in June at the site of the Foxconn development in Mount Pleasant, Wis.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (left), President Donald Trump, Foxconn Technology Chairman Terry Gou and House Speaker Paul Ryan break ground in June at the site of the Foxconn development in Mount Pleasant, Wis. (Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune)
"The Lake County Board is unanimous in our strong opposition to U.S. EPA and state of Wisconsin actions creating a separate set of pollution standards for Foxconn's five county area, which will compromise the environmental integrity and resiliency of natural resources to the detriment of Lake County families, businesses and taxpayers," Lawlor said in a statement.
In a statement earlier this year, officials with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources said they plan to work "with Foxconn, local government officials and other state and federal agencies to ensure all applicable permit requirements are met" during development of the plant, including "consideration of any environmental impacts associated with any permits or approvals."
Farther south of Lincolnshire, officials in Buffalo Grove, which also sits near the Des Plaines River, said they have been monitoring the ongoing developments and criticisms related to the Foxconn plant, but village board members have not discussed whether to pass their own resolution, according to Village President Beverly Sussman.
But earlier this spring, the Lake County Stormwater Management Commission approved a resolution of its own, calling on state and federal agencies to "ensure negative impacts are not imposed on the residents of downstream Lake County."
Likewise, a recently passed Illinois Senate resolution, sponsored by Sen. Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake, also asks the Wisconsin State Legislature to consider "serious environmental and public health concerns that may threaten Illinoisans" from the Foxconn development.
Frank Abderholden / Lake County News-Sun
More than 200 people rally at a park in Mount Pleasant, Wis., about 10 minutes away from the official groundbreaking ceremony in June for the Foxconn development.
More than 200 people rally at a park in Mount Pleasant, Wis., about 10 minutes away from the official groundbreaking ceremony in June for the Foxconn development. (Frank Abderholden / Lake County News-Sun)
"The fact that Wisconsin leaders are willing to sacrifice the health of humans and the environment for jobs is unacceptable," Bush said in announcing the resolution. "Lake County residents deserve better. I hope Wisconsin leaders will put people before profits and reconsider the Foxconn deal."
Set to be constructed in two phases, the Foxconn plant, featuring more than a dozen buildings, should be operational by 2023, officials have said.
Lake County News-Sun reporter Frank Abderholden contributed to this report.
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