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Appraiser: Property values will drop if gravel pit is approved

Appraiser: Property values will drop if gravel pit is approved

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BLOOMINGTON -- Property values for homes near Fox Creek Elementary School would suffer if the McLean County Zoning Board of Appeals approves a special use permit for a proposed gravel pit near the school, a real estate appraiser said Monday night.

Stringtown Lakes LLC filed a special use permit Jan. 15 to develop a gravel pit operation on land across from the school.

Ken Polach, a state-certified real estate appraiser, testified before the ZBA Monday night on behalf of residents opposed to the permit.

“Studies have shown that within a half mile of a gravel pit, there can be as much as a 25 percent reduction in property values,” Polach said. “Within one mile, there could be a 14 percent reduction.”

Brian Hug, the attorney for the applicant, asked Polach if he had done any studies specifically related to the Stringtown LLC permit.

“I have done studies in the past, but I have not done a specific study within McLean County,” Polach said. “I saw no need to do a specific study.”

Hug argued that Polach’s testimony would be mere speculation since he has no localized figures to back up his claims that property values would decrease.

But John Morel, an attorney representing opponents of the applicant, argued that by that thinking, doctors would never be allowed to testify in court proceedings unless they had done localized studies for every disease.

Among the witnesses called on behalf of the applicants was Shirley resident Tom Stokes who lives across the road from the Stark Gravel Pit which opened 12 years ago.

“We had concerns at first, like everyone, but we haven’t had any concerns or trouble since it opened,” Stokes said. “If you are outside, you hear some machines and the backup beepers, but you don’t hear anything inside of the house.”

Stokes also testified that nobody in his family has suffered illnesses as a result of the gravel pit.

“And we don’t have any more dust than anyone else would have in the county,” he said.

The hearing will continue March 9 at the McLean County Government Center.

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