Construction project hits roadblock

Legal objections have halted the start of an $18 million road project along the Riverside corridor east of I-90. This bump in the road could delay a spring start to the City of Loves Park’s road improvements.

Donald and Jerry Paulson, Rockford Memorial Hospital (RMH) and Rockford Health System (RHS) have filed a motion to dismiss themselves from the petition to assess their properties from funding the bonds necessary for the road improvements. The issue is before the Circuit Court of 17th Judicial Circuit of Winnebago and Boone Counties.

Reportedly, new concerns have arisen about the proper procedures required for notices for public hearings and property that is not contiguous to Special Assessment Area (SSA) proposed by the City of Loves Park.

Winnebago County and Loves Park are to both put up $4.5 million toward the project. Adjacent land owners will pay the other $9 million in the form of a special assessment.

The assessment would raise taxes based on their projected property values after completion of the project.

The objectors, including Donald and Jerry Paulson, want their properties to be exempt from the special assessment that would raise their taxes to levels they say they can’t afford.

In May, Loves Park Mayor Darryl Lindberg petitioned the 17th Circuit Court, “That steps be taken to levy a special assessment against properties which are not within the municipal limits but that are contiguous to and will benefit from said local improvements.”

The Paulsons own and operate nearly 150 acres of farm land that has been in their family for nearly a century in unincorporated Winnebago County.

The Paulsons do not stand alone against the Loves Park assessment.

RMH and RHS would also be faced with much higher taxes for its property between Riverside Boulevard and Spring Brook Road.

In a letter sent to RMH attorney Curtis Worden, Loves Park City Attorney Paul S. Nicolosi estimated RMH’s property value would double as a result of the road improvements.

Per the special assessment, RMH would be taxed for double what their property is currently worth.

Greg Cox, attorney for Loves Park, said the city continues to work with landowners to reach an agreement.

Cox said, “I am encouraged by the tone of our discussions with counsel for the Paulsons and for Rockford Health System, and it appears that we have very little left to negotiate that is in dispute.”

The Paulsons did not return phone calls for comment prior to publication.

Cox said the city still expects to begin construction in the spring.

Judge Ron Pirrello will begin hearings on the matter in February.

From the Dec. 20-26, 2006, issue

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!