Christiansen promotes zoning code amendment

The public learned about proposed changes to Winnebago County’s zoning code during a July 25 press conference hosted by Winnebago County Board Chairman Scott Christiansen at the Rockton Township Hall. Christiansen said the suggested amendments add conditions, which create more checks and balances.

Rockton Township and a not-for-profit group of property owners adjacent to the proposed Dyn Cannell Planned Community Development (PCD) west of Rockton, Winnebago Citizens for Controlled Development, have filed separate lawsuits against Winnebago County over its zoning decision. Their major point was that special-use permits for PCDs removed their ability to file as legal objectors.

In his news conference, Christiansen proposed that PCDs must be within 1.5 miles of a municipality. Therefore, the county and cities and villages can review the potential development, Christiansen said, in response to how he endorsed the special use permit’s ability to remove villages and townships as legal objectors.

Township officials didn’t really see any change since they purport PCDs still exclude their right to be legal objectors in a court of law.

Christiansen denied the County Board’s stance on PCDs has been clouded by campaign contributions to him and other County Board members.

“That’s absolutely not the case. That doesn’t make sense. That’s totally unacceptable,” he said.

“Most folks are on the County Board to serve the community.”

Although his election campaign received more than $28,000 in contributions and loans from the Nicolosi and Associates law firm or their development company, Buckley Partners LLC, Christiansen stressed the money didn’t influence the Winnebago County Board Zoning Committee’s decision to hire Nicolosi and Associates as consultants on the county’s land use guide revamp for a cost not to exceed $350,000.

Noting the national firm Caimros is the lead on the guide update as chosen by the committee, Christiansen said Nicolosi and Associates signed an agreement that states it won’t get involved in development projects in the affected area.

In recent advertisements in the local daily, Buckley Partners has promoted their developments, lots for sale and office space for lease as follows: Hawthorne Village, “Located on Broadcast Parkway, east of Perryville Road – Across from HUCK’S; Mulford Grove Condominium Homes, “Located on Mulford Road, North of Newburg Road (Next to the Flowering Vine); Perryville Ridge Outlet, “Excellent Perryville frontage, suitable for office and medical. 1.47 acres with access from Perryville and Marsh Hawk Roads. Loves Park.”; 4912 Rolex Drive, “(Next to Mostly Cats) 1.5 acres, high traffic area. Perryville frontage, suitable for office and medical. Loves Park.”; Riverside Crossings Outlets, “Prime location, across from the new Wal-Mart Supercenter, on Rockford’s Westside growth corridor. Fully developed pad-ready sites with all utilities to the lot line, zoned for retail, office, restaurants & convenience. Sites range from 1-3 acres.”; 364 Financial Court – Under Construction. “Class A Office Space, prime location, 10,585 sq. ft., divisible into units of 1,500 sq. ft., suitable for medical or general office use. Behind Saturn of Rockford. Perryville Pointe Office Park.”; Perryville Ridge Office Center , “Under Construction. Class A Office Space, Perryville frontage, 10,585 sq. ft., 4,900 sq. ft. available, divisible into 2 units of 2,450 sq. ft., suitable for medical or general office use. Loves Park.”; Riverside Crossings Shopping Center, “ New Construction. Retail Center across from the new Wal-Mart on W. Riverside Blvd. Spaces range in size from 1400-2300 sq. ft. Going Fast!”; Perryville Ridge Shopping Center, “Coming Soon. Excellent location, Perryville frontage, masonry building, from 1281 sq. ft., zoned for retail, office, restaurants & convenience. Available Summer 2006. Loves Park taxes.”; Second Street Square Shopping Center – 5303 N. Second Street. Prime location, high visibility, very busy retail area with a long history of well-established businesses. Masonry building for retail, office, restaurants, & convenience. Reasonable rents, Loves Park taxes.”

Nicolosi and Associates is also the special counsel for Rochelle, Caledonia, Loves Park, Roscoe and Rockton.

Christiansen refused to comment about whether going forward with the recently approved 123-acre Dyn Cannell developments, west of Rockton, without extensive ground testing, was prudent. But he noted that wasn’t necessarily his responsibility: “That’s the reason we have the health department and the (Illinois) Environmental Protection Agency.”

Growth in the Rockton area has spurred Hononegah School District to investigate building a second high school. Christiansen said impact fees help the area deal with the growth. But he noted the Illinois school funding mechanism is part of the problem. He said if the state would review funding mechanisms, it would lower property taxes.

“Our plan will help overall. We’ve got the Chicago engine coming at us. With proper planning, we can handle it,” Christiansen said.

From the Aug. 2-8, 2006, issue

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