Fairfield Ledger
http://fairfield-ia.villagesoup.com/p/1168946

Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 16, 2014

Whatever happened to common decency?

By Eric Randall | Apr 17, 2014

To the editor:

Neighbors who want to live in harmony talk to each other when they're planning something that might be a problem for their neighbor. They discuss the situation, and look for a win-win solution that makes everyone happy. This is common decency. Heartland Co-op's attitude and tactics show a flagrant disrespect for their neighbors and the citizens of Fairfield.

The reason Heartland has chosen to be secretive about their plans is that they know their plant will violate the basic common law principle "do not encroach on other persons or their property.” Their plant will have a negative impact on everyone in Fairfield who uses the roads, breathes the air, and enjoys peace and quiet.

During harvest time we’ll have thousands of out-of-county loaded semis wearing out our roads (that our tax dollars will repair), congesting traffic, making noise, and spewing diesel fumes. And noise pollution from grain dryers drying 5 million bushels of corn. And air pollution from corn dust and road dust. Let’s face it, this industrial plant will have a negative impact on the quality of life in Fairfield.

And, to boot, they're asking our county supervisors to provide them with tax incentives and road upgrades. I’m all for economic development, but not when it has such a clearly negative impact on the quality of life. I’m all for agriculture, but placing a major industrial plant right next to a small town seems extremely inconsiderate and driven by corporate greed. Whatever happened to common decency?

I applaud the county supervisors for their economic development motives. However, there needs to be a balance between economic development and quality of life considerations. There needs to be an extensive cost-benefits analysis. What is the cost of driving Reiff Grain and Overland Sheepskin out of business in Fairfield? Will the eventual taxes be sufficient to cover long-term road damage? How many people and businesses will leave Fairfield? How do you quantify the cost of air and noise pollution and road congestion?

Maybe the farmers like the idea of Heartland Co-op, but most of them won’t experience the negative impact of road congestion, noise and air pollution. And while they think they’ll be making more profit on their corn, once Reiff is gone, will the price incentive leave too?

What stinks the most, in my opinion, is that the county supervisors are considering Tax Increment Financing and not a general obligation bond. With TIF, the County Supervisors can make decisions that go against public opinion, increasing our taxes and decreasing the quality of life – not a good practice if they want to be reelected. If they truly think this project is going to benefit Jefferson County, let’s have a referendum and let the people vote. Judging by the fact that 1,200 people signed a petition urging restraint, I’d say this issue requires more than just the vote of three county supervisors. That would be the decent thing to do.

 

Sincerely,

– Eric Randall, Fairfield

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