POPLAR GROVE — Boone County filed a complaint Wednesday against Michael Coil and Norma Gesell for using land illegally to stockpile mulch that eventually resulted in a five-day Poplar Grove fire.
After providing the defendants 10 days to remove the mulch, Boone County State’s Attorney Michelle Courier filed a complaint for a preliminary and permanent injunction for violating the Boone County Zoning Ordinance.
According to the complaint, Jim Schumacher had obtained a special-use permit in 2007 to allow property in Poplar Grove to house a nursery and horticulture supply store. However, that land was divided in May 2011 without notification to the Boone County Planning Department.
Since the land became a new piece of property, Coil, who purchased and controlled the property, and Gesell, who is the property’s legal owner, needed to ask for a special-use permit to store the mulch. They ultimately did not and began to stockpile mulch in an agricultural conservation district, which is illegal, according to the complaint.
“(Individuals who refuse) to comply with or resist the enforcement of any of the provisions in this ordinance, shall upon conviction, be fined no more than $500 plus the cost of the prosecution of each offense. Each day that a violation continues to exist shall constitute a separate offense,” the county zoning ordinance states.
The complaint requests that Coil and Gesell be prohibited from bringing more mulch on the property and be forced to remove the material there now.
In addition to the mulch complaint, Courier alleges that if the newly divided land had been covered by Schumacher’s special-use permit, Coil and Gesell had been violating several fire codes since May 2012.
Those violations include: failing to provide access roads for fire suppression, failing to provide an adequate water supply, allowing mulch piles to exceed their size limitations, failing to have appropriate material handling equipment on site, failing to monitor mulch piles’ internal temperatures, failing to provide portable fire extinguishers and failing to provide an emergency plan.
Additionally, Coil and Gesell did not have the required access permits from Belvidere Township needed for the special-use permit.
The fire that resulted from these mulch piles required more than 100 agencies to respond and 4 million gallons of water. The cost of the fire totaled more than $46,000 between Rural Boone County Fire Protection District 2 and the village of Poplar Grove.
Jennifer Wheeler: 815-987-1354; firstname.lastname@example.org
The above story is also available in the Friday, July 27, 2012 print version of the Rockford Register Star, page A5.