OAKWOOD HILLS, Ill. (AP) — A dispute over a proposed gas-fired power plant in Oakwood Hills has escalated, with board members receiving personal threats and officials deciding to put public business on hold, the president of the northern Illinois village said.
"We're temporarily shutting things down until things cool down a little," Village President Melanie Funk told The Northwest Herald in Crystal Lake.
The clerk in the village of 2,000 isn't working until further notice, and the village board canceled a meeting scheduled for Thursday.
A message on Oakwood Hills' website regarding the shutdown says, "NO public business will be conducted." And it cites "personal threats to Board members and threats to prevent the conducting of business at the scheduled Village Board meeting."
An Eagle Scout whose village improvement project was on the meeting agenda has been given informal permission to get started on the work, Funk said.
The threats are related to plans for a $450 million natural gas-fired power plant, Funk said. "I have a clerk that's afraid to come to work because of the way (protesters) have been acting," she said.
The village zoning board postponed a vote on the project until Oct. 9 after shouting protesters disrupted two meetings. Protesters are concerned about how the Oakwood Hills Energy Center project will affect their property values.
The plant's developers are Toronto-based Northland Power and Coral Gables, Florida-based Enventure Partners.
Oakwood Hills Energy Center spokesman Joab Ortiz told The Associated Press on Wednesday the developers are studying how similar facilities have affected property values elsewhere and have been negotiating with village officials about possible remedies for neighboring property owners should values fall.
"We can't comment on what they're doing as a municipality," Ortiz said when asked about the village shutting down business.
The organizer of a Facebook page opposing the power plant said he doesn't condone threatening behavior.
"I never started this thing to create an angry mob," Chris Reining told The Northwest Herald.