Aldermen don’t agree on addiction center

A proposed group home on Rockford’s west side is being met with opposition from at least one alderman who says her ward is already up to its ears in social services.

Although Ald. Linda McNeely (D-13) agrees Steve Curington and Reformers Unanimous (RU) would run an excellent program, she says it’s simply in the wrong place.

“This is the organization for that facility,” McNeely said of the Christianity-based addiction program, “but I don’t believe that this is the location for the facility. …The 13th Ward has a lot of social services in it.”

During the Oct. 15 Rockford City Council meeting, McNeely said she’d prefer to see more businesses, homes or a college in the area.

It is customary for the council to respect the wishes of an alderman whose ward will be affected by a vote. Only Ald. Victory Bell (D-5) voiced the intention to uphold that tradition.

Ald. Frank Beach (R-10) recognized McNeely’s concerns are valid, but noted RU has gone out of its way to accommodate all conditions requested.

“It’s a positive thing for this community,” Beach stated. “Its services speaks for itself.”

Ald. Bill Timm (R-9), whose ward is near the proposed site, reported having met with Curington to have his own concerns addressed, and to set forth his expectations.

“I expected that place to be perfect,” Timm said. “I laid a lot of rules on him.”

Curington, the president and founder of RU, plans to invest $250,000 to renovate the former Lockwood Health Care Facility. The home would offer private education, counseling, a worship center and dormitory for females at 3520 School St.

Some of the residents would be coming directly out of the court system. RU promised no sex offenders would reside in the home, and that residents would be screened prior to being admitted.

The site is zoned as a Limited Office District, so the group home would need a special-use permit (SUP) to open its doors.

When McNeely addressed the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) on the matter July 17, she argued the facility is too close to schools and residences. The ZBA unanimously voted to deny Curington’s request, citing reasons including: “The establishment, maintenance or operation of the Special Use Permit will be detrimental to or endanger the public health, safety, morals, comfort or general welfare of the community. The location and volume of young children in the immediate vicinity poses a conflict of uses for a group home for adjustment in that location.

“The Special Use Permit will be injurious to the use and enjoyment of other property in the immediate vicinity for the purposes already permitted, and will substantially diminish and impair property values within the neighborhood.”

The Rockford City Council’s Codes and Regulations Committee disagrees, and moved forward a report that would reverse the ZBA’s recommendation to deny the permit.

Because the report goes against the advice of the ZBA, a two-thirds supermajority vote by the full council is required for approval.

At the request of Ald. John Beck (R-12), aldermen ultimately agreed to lay the matter over for one week.

Committee reports

The council passed a report recommending $567,351 be awarded to Air One Equipment, Inc., of South Elgin, for Fire Department self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA). Roughly $425,000 of that cost will be paid by a federal grant.

Aldermen voted to approve a report recommending a citywide biennial bridge inspection contract be awarded to Smith Engineering Consultants, of Crystal Lake, in the amount of $88,113.06.

A report recommending Rockford Blacktop, of Loves Park, and Rockford Cement Products be awarded contracts for street, sewer, traffic and water materials was also approved.

A committee report recommending $19,864 in tax increment financing (TIF) funds for renovation of 201 Seventh St. was approved for Charmaine and Lee Schreiner.

Aldermen approved a report recommending the award of a $12,672 bid to Kone, Inc., for parking deck elevator maintenance.

Public participation

John Weaver, a community activist and regular speaker during public comments, addressed the council on the subject of fear.

Weaver is in the process of recruiting participants for the Sweep It & Keep It campaign started by the Coronado Haskell Neighborhood Association. The campaign’s emphasis is to stress the importance of cleaning up crime, and then keeping it out of the neighborhoods.

“I have been calling other neighborhood leaders to ask if they will be supporting this effort in their areas,” Weaver explained. “Some areas have members who are not willing to be supporting anything to do with any anti-crime or violence. They are fearful of retaliation from some evil force, whether it’s real or perceived.”

Weaver argued that attitude must change before stronger neighborhoods can be built.

“Unless we all work as a team to stop its progress, it will reach out to every corner of Rockford,” Weaver added.

Weaver especially urged church groups to become more active in combating crime.


Mayor Larry Morrissey (I) proclaimed Oct. 20 American Diabetes Association’s Step Out to Fight Diabetes Day in Rockford.

October was proclaimed Domestic Violence Awareness Month.


Ald. Ann Thompson-Kelly (D-7) was not present.

from the Oct. 17-23, 2007, issue

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