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Huyett believes enterprise zone action is legal

Logan County State's Attorney Tim Huyett disagrees with his friend and Tazewell County counterpart on a legal issue related to whether the Rail Splitter Wind Farm qualifies for inclusion in an enterprise zone. The agency that administrates all of the state's enterprise zones also disagrees with Tazewell County State's Attorney Stewart Umholtz, who has threatened to sue his own county board if it extends that county's enterprise zone to the wind farm locale, which straddles the Logan-Tazewell county line.

Logan County State's Attorney Tim Huyett disagrees with his friend and Tazewell County counterpart on a legal issue related to whether the Rail Splitter Wind Farm qualifies for inclusion in an enterprise zone.

The agency that administrates all of the state's enterprise zones also disagrees with Tazewell County State's Attorney Stewart Umholtz, who has threatened to sue his own county board if it extends that county's enterprise zone to the wind farm locale, which straddles the Logan-Tazewell county line.

But Umholtz said the agency, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, doesn't have authority above state law, which he believes prohibits the extension to the proposed wind farm.

"That, in fact, is legal," IDCEO spokeswoman Marcelyn Love said Wednesday.

Government units that administrate the Lincoln-Logan County Enterprise Zone have already approved an extension of the zone to include the wind farm.

The city of Pekin and Tazewell County want to extend their jointly owned enterprise zone the same way the Lincoln-Logan zone was connected - by utilizing 3-foot-wide strips of land. Strips of land for the Tazewell zone would run from Pekin... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Logan County State's Attorney Tim Huyett disagrees with his friend and Tazewell County counterpart on a legal issue related to whether the Rail Splitter Wind Farm qualifies for inclusion in an enterprise zone.

The agency that administrates all of the state's enterprise zones also disagrees with Tazewell County State's Attorney Stewart Umholtz, who has threatened to sue his own county board if it extends that county's enterprise zone to the wind farm locale, which straddles the Logan-Tazewell county line.

But Umholtz said the agency, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, doesn't have authority above state law, which he believes prohibits the extension to the proposed wind farm.

"That, in fact, is legal," IDCEO spokeswoman Marcelyn Love said Wednesday.

Government units that administrate the Lincoln-Logan County Enterprise Zone have already approved an extension of the zone to include the wind farm.

The city of Pekin and Tazewell County want to extend their jointly owned enterprise zone the same way the Lincoln-Logan zone was connected - by utilizing 3-foot-wide strips of land. Strips of land for the Tazewell zone would run from Pekin to the Logan County line, where it would include the Rail Splitter Wind Farm, proposed by Horizon Wind Energy LLC.

Horizon would pay Pekin and Tazewell County a $300,000 fee to split for allowing it into the zone, where it would receive sales tax abatement on towers it would purchase in the state.

A copy of IDCEO's eligibility criteria for enterprise zones says using the strips of land is allowable, as long as they're no less than three feet wide and no more than 10 feet wide.

"It is legal," Love said, and several areas across the state have done the same thing, receiving approval from IDCEO.

But Umholtz said such an extension violates the spirit and letter of the Illinois Enterprise Zone Act, which he said is superior to anything done by IDCEO.

"They cannot adopt regulations that usurp the authority of the statute," he said.

Umholtz also said Horizon's inclusion would mean revenue loss for state taxpayers.
Love said businesses inside the state's 97 enterprise zones invested $3.5 billion in fiscal year 2007, and only help local economies.

"The purpose of an enterprise zone is to stimulate the economy," she said. "We look at enterprise zones as a valuable tool to help strengthen the economy."

Umholtz has gained both support and opposition to his position.

"I don't think it's illegal," Huyett said Wednesday in an interview with GateHouse News Service. "(Umholtz) actually called me about that one morning. I told him that it may be against the spirit of the law, but not against the letter of the law."

Huyett said he has no intention of fighting his county board or the Lincoln City Council over their decision to extend the Lincoln-Logan zone.

"I do not intend to take legal action against them," he said, adding that Umholtz's willingness to take legal action against Tazewell County was "highly unusual," but deferred to his judgment as a colleague and friend.

Tazewell County Board Chairman Jim Unsicker said he disagrees with Umholtz.

"I believe we're well within our rights to expand the enterprise zone in that manner," Unsicker said. "No one seems to have a problem with it except Mr. Umholtz."

But Tazewell County Board member Mike Godar said he supports Umholtz and would vote against the expansion, saying the $300,000 fee amounts to pay-to-play politics.

"If I was the state's attorney, I'd be saying the same thing," Godar said.


Source: http://www.lincolncourier.c...

JUL 17 2008
http://www.windaction.org/posts/16013-huyett-believes-enterprise-zone-action-is-legal
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