StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-115575645418202.jpg’, ‘Photo by Jason Carson Wilson’, ‘623 N. Madison St.’);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-115575648821000.jpg’, ‘Photo by Jason Carson Wilson’, ‘623 N. Madison St.’);
Story Motor Sales owner Paul Story wont be able to end his career at 623 N. Madison St. after being forced from his property in the 800 block of West State Street. The Rockford City Council voted down his request for a special use permit to operate a car wholesaling business, with an inventory of no more than six cars, for three years.
I think the city council did an injustice to my client, Theodore Liebovich, Storys attorney, said.
Ald. Linda McNeely (D-13) was less than pleased: I will not be supporting this tonight. We, as a city, should have a little more consideration for our citizens. McNeely noted more than once Story only wanted to operate his business for two years. She stressed the need to be Storys advocate.
I feel sorry for that individual. Thats why I stand here tonight…being his voice, McNeely said.
Liebovich said he needed to discuss how Story would like to proceed with his client. But Liebovich noted Story has two optionsaccept the city councils decision or file a lawsuit in the 17th Judicial Circuit: Let the judge decide whether the application for the special use permit was properly reviewed.
Though a majority of existing businesses in the area qualify as light-industrial, Ald. Doug Mark, Rockford City Council Codes and Regulations Committee chairman, said granting Storys request would impede progress of the citys 2020 plan: If we dont make the decision and draw the line in the sand, its never going to happen.
He said the city council passed the 2020 plan a year ago, with the intention of creating a mixed-use area. Mark said the area would include commercial and residential development. While the three-year limit might accommodate Story, Mark said it was unacceptable. He noted the city councils Codes and Regulations committee voted to amend zoning in that area from I-1, light industrial, to C-4, commercial oldtown. Aldermen approved the zoning amendment at the July 3 meeting.
According to the plan itself, which can be found at www.ci.rockford.il.us, city planning staff created the 2020 plan to address things the Year 2000 plan didnt foresee. That includes Rockfords expansion to the Boone County line, it said.
Mark and City Current Planning Manager Todd Cagnonis reservations werent alleviated by assurances from Storys counsel, Theodore Liebovich, that Story only wanted to remain in business for three more years.
City Administrator Jim Ryan agreed with Marks take on the situation: Its going in the wrong direction.
He said Storys proposed development would hinder the citys plan to create a residential, commercial and cultural area. According to Ryan, allowing industry is going back.
Liebovich said Mark has been the roadblock standing between Story and his dream: I know that (Mark) put a lot of time opposing this. He said Marks logic for opposing the three-year special use permit escapes him.
Youre not setting any kind of precedent, Liebovich said.
Because theres a substantial industrial presence in the area, Liebovich said hes sure Story assumed, with all this activity going on, zoning wouldnt be an issue. While acknowledging city staff gave Story relocation assistance, Liebovich said it amounted to giving Story copies of real estate listings hed already reviewed and rejected.
According to Liebovich, Storys purchase contract for the Madison Street property made no mention of acceptable zoning. He noted a mechanic isnt located that far from Storys location.
Ald. Nancy Johnson (D-8) said the city didnt force Story from his former property, and relocation services had been offered to him: We have tried everything we can. Johnson said Story was very uncooperative, alleging he refused to meet with city staff.
But City Attorney Kerry Partridge said the city began eminent domain proceedings in 2005. According to Winnebago County court records, the case was settled May 31, 2006. Partridge said he was unaware of any promises the city made to Story in regard to finding another site. But he asserted Story purchased the Madison site without the citys permission. The property is among those being rezoned from I-1 to C-4. Partridge said Storys proposed car dealership wouldnt be permitted in either I-1 or C-4.
Thats the way the (zoning) code is written, he said.
The Zoning Advisory Committee suggests permitted uses, Partridge said, with citizens, landscapers and engineers to help make up the committee.
Liebovich thought Johnson was, most likely, basing her observations on comments from staff. According to Liebovich, Johnson only attended one Codes & Regulations committee meeting dealing with the issue. He said Cagnoni had inferred Story was uncooperative during a Codes & Regulations committee meeting.
Liebovich disagreed with the characterizations: That is certainly not the case. He cooperated every way he could.
From the Aug. 16-22, 2006, issue