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Closed Over Power Plant Fight, Oakwood Hills Village Hall To Reopen Next Week

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The village hall in a small McHenry County community was slated to reopen next Tuesday, after it has been closed for weeks because of alleged threats tied to plans for a natural gas power plant.

WBBM Newsradio's Dave Berner reports the doors to the Oakwood Hills Village Hall have been closed since early August, but in a message on the village website, officials said they plan to reopen the hall on Tuesday, Sept. 2, after implementing new security measures.

"Although the village hall remains closed to the public until all safety measures are in place the clerks office is taking phone calls and emails. The Building Department is as always by appointment and the Police Department is always available," the message added.

The hall was closed in early August after police said village officials were threatened over plans to build a $450 million natural gas power plant.

The Illinois Attorney General's office sent village officials a letter last week, asking them to reopen village offices as soon as possible.

The plan for a natural gas power plant in Oakwood Hills has stirred controversy, as many residents said they were not notified of the plans until late in the process.

Chris Reining, who has lived in Oakwood Hills for four years, has set up a Facebook page called "Stop The Oakwood Hills Power Plant," and has organized protests in an effort to block the proposed plant.

"There's a lot of questions that we feel need to be asked, but it's something that we all certainly know we don't want in our back yard," Reining said.

According to published reports, developers have been working on a plan to reduce such heavy reliance on the nearby aquifer and eventually draw all of the water needed for the power plant from treatment facilities that otherwise would dump water in the Fox River

A website promoting the proposed Oakwood Hills Energy Center said the power will help the region to transition from coal and nuclear energy to clean natural gas and renewable energy. Reports state the village also would receive a $1.3 million hosting fee, and $500,000 of new property tax revenue from the plant's operators.

Northland Power, one of the partners of the proposed plant, says that with area coal plants closing that a gas plant makes sense. They say they will be able to use wastewater fluid to power the plant with well water as a backup.

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