LAKE COUNTY — The drama between Wisconsin and Illinois regarding Foxconn continues, this time with Lake County, Ill., joining the fray.
While actions taken by Illinois governmental bodies have no real authority over the Foxconn Technology Group development in Mount Pleasant, that hasn’t stopped them from trying. The work being done in the Land of Lincoln has prompted Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, to speak directly to Illinoisans on Foxconn.
On Aug. 7, Michael Warner, executive director of the Lake County Stomwater Management Commission, sent a memo to “interested parties and watershed stakeholders” regarding the Foxconn Technology Group development in Mount Pleasant.
In the memo, Warner said the commission is concerned that the Foxconn project “without proper mitigation, may result in an adverse impact on flooding and water quality along the Des Plaines River in Lake County.”
“The economic development and job creation potential is sizable for the region and would have a positive effect in that regard for Lake County as well,” the memo goes on to say. “However, it has also been shown, from a public cost perspective, that environmental impacts should be proactively and adequately addressed along with the development process.”
The memo also mentions that the commission entered into a contract with Christopher B. Burke Engineering Ltd. to “review the proposed Foxconn development and related adjacent improvements.”
In June, the Lake County Board voted 19-to-0 to approve a resolution urging Wisconsin to “immediately reconsider any actions relative to the Foxconn/upstream development that waive enforcement of or compliance with all applicable regulations and laws which could compromise the environmental integrity and resiliency of natural resources to the detriment of the people and property in Lake County.”
The resolution also expresses support for Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who has threatened to sue Wisconsin over environmental regulations connected to Foxconn; and for the Illinois General Assembly, which also has expressed concerns over the project.
The resolution also asks that Lake County officials meet with “its counterparts in local, state and federal agencies with jurisdiction over the Foxconn/upstream development to discuss the actions and corresponding impacts on Lake County.”
No meeting is known to have been arranged.
On Thursday a guest column written by Vos, who represents the Foxconn area in the state Assembly, was published in the Daily Herald, a suburban Chicago newspaper. In it, Vos spoke directly to the residents of the area directly south of the Wisconsin-Illinois line.
“When Wisconsin lawmakers approved the Foxconn legislation, we not only required compliance with all the state and federal air and water quality standards, we actually strengthened environmental protections,” Vos wrote.
“In the project zone, for every one acre of wetlands used in construction, two have to be created as close to the construction site as possible … in addition, any worries about flooding downstream should be put at ease. The nonpartisan Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission has determined the proposed stormwater management system would actually help maintain or decrease runoff in the Des Plaines River watershed.”
In a news release after his column was published, Vos said Illinois elected officials are “resorting to fear-mongering and hyperbole instead of learning the real facts.”
“I thought it was important for Illinoisans to understand that Foxconn is a positive development with ample environmental protections that will make the Midwest the epicenter for cutting-edge technology,” Vos said. “While it’s understandable that Illinois politicians want the best for their communities, they’re doing a disservice to their constituents when they don’t do their homework on this transformational economic development project.”