VERMILION CO., IL. (ECWd) -
At the Sept 9, 2014 Vermilion County board meeting, the Illinois Farm Bureau (IFB) and farmers on the board came out in full force and voiced their concerns about how zoning would destroy their economic opportunities and would cause them to lose control of being able to do whatever they want on their own land. (Good move.....we can certainly respect that). BUT! These gentlemen should not be throwing rocks at glass houses. They are complaining about "potential future loss of economic opportunity" at the same time their cohorts are causing "immediate property value loss and injury" to the ones unfortunate to be classified as expendable just because they own a home and are trying to live on the other side of the property line.
The fact is that not all farmers are good neighbors. At times, they can be bad neighbors who do not think of anyone besides themselves. This article is just only one example of what some farmers have done to their neighbors in Vermilion County. Let's see if everyone agrees this is "just fine" or "totally acceptable" or "remotely fair" or "justifiable."
At the urging of former board chairman, Jim "Mouse" McMann and old timer "sick and tired of this bulls--t" Bob Fox, we have taken some time to study the possible reasons why zoning in Vermilion County would be a really good thing. It did not take long for us to find a PERFECT EXAMPLE OF WHY ZONING MAY BE WAY OVERDUE.
This is only our first story about zoning, and perhaps one of many which will compel most of our readers to agree. (Hold on....this might get ugly.)
Do you have a neighbor who is a bad neighbor? Well, hopefully he is not a farmer with the IFB property rights mentality.
This family had one of "those neighbors" (or they did until abandoning their home which is now in foreclosure).Shortly after moving into this home, the "farmer with the IFB mentality" who owns adjacent lands decided to place 2 old grain bins a little bit too close to the property line. The white post is where the survey marker is located on the property line. These bins were already pretty old, and moved in from a different site within a year or two of the house being built here. So, now there is a new house stuck to 2 old ugly grain bins. The photo speaks for itself.
The bins are merely a few feet from the property line, and nearly the edge of the road right-of-way. Not only do they loom over the top of the house, they are causing a visibility problem and a traffic hazard every time someone wants to exit the driveway.
How would you like for this to happen to you?
In Vermilion County, it can happen over and over and over.....all day, all night, all week, all month, and all year long. Year after year, jerks can do this to their neighbors. Why? Because farmers, like this think that they can and should be able to do whatever they want on their land, even when it screws over their neighbors. The problem with this mentality is that it reduces property values, which in turn reduces the property taxes for these undesirable properties. This is a real cost to society. When the value of property is ruined, the rest of us taxpayers pick up the tab to cover the loss tax revenue. I think this farmer owes his community some kind of replacement payment for what he has taken because of his poor selfish decision to build grain bins WAY too close to this home.
What can we do? We can put in reasonable and responsible land zoning laws which can be used as a guideline for residents.
For those who have a problem with it, and have a unique situation where these rules don't fit, then that is when a variance request can be submitted, and if you can convince a group of people to take your side, and allow the neighbor to weigh in on something he/she has to live with, then maybe your wishes can be granted.
Remember the reason we have to do this. We have to do this because of the landowners who behave badly or have made thoughtless decisions.
It would be smart to create a zoning committee which includes a local surveyor, a local civil engineer, a banker/lender, one or two farmers, one or two city slickers, one or two business owners, one or two crazy people (treehuggers or environmentalists), and a pastor/priest. We think this balance might provide a fighting chance for success. None of these people should be more than 55 years old because anybody older than that won't have to be the ones stuck living with the decisions.
OR, we could trust that land owners won't do this to their neighbors.
OR, how about the Illinois Farm Bureau members could do something without shooting themselves in the foot? Maybe they could compel their buddies to quit screwing neighbors and ruining land values in Vermilion County. If you want to keep life like it is now, you need to get to work to keep your friends from ruining it for the rest of the responsible farmers. Print this and take it to your next few Farm Bureau meetings. Show this photo as an example of what not to do. If you don't bring attention to yourselves, then everything is going to be just fine.
Someone should apologize for this grain bin construction incident. What are these land owners? Maybe land owners, as a whole, deserve to have utility companies construct huge transmission lines and oil pipelines across their properties. It is hard for us to agree with that, so how can we stop this nonsense? Maybe the answer is to work together and put in some reasonable zoning, and yes, this certainly needs to have farmers within the discussion.
We would love to hear from land owners about how far they think bins like these could be placed on their property and still protect their economic opportunities without causing a property value loss to their neighbor. Maybe a small distance of 50 feet would have been much, much better. Of course, this would only apply to new construction and not grandfathered situations.