At its June 22 meeting, by a vote of 24-3, the Winnebago County Board approved property owner Brad Olers map amendment request. The amendment rezones more than 6 acres at 13843 Tallackson Rd. in Laona township from agricultural district to rural agricultural. Rural agricultural zoning allows residential development.
This vote discarded the Zoning Board of Appeals denying the request by a vote of 3-2, while the Zoning Committee recommended denial by a vote of 7-0. The propertys land evaluation and site assessment (LESA) score apparently contributed to their decision.
At its last meeting, the County Board also overturned those bodies findings on the 123-acre Dyn Cannell planned community development in Rockton Township by a 19-4 vote, with five County Board members absent.
Stanley Campbell, conservation chairman for the BlackHawk Sierra Club, said: We are opposed to this County Board bending over and acquiescing to developers influence. Its a bad precedent. This means you are going to have rural land going willy nilly to development. Urban sprawl here could make Chicago development look like a state park. Its going to affect the quality of life for everyone.
According to the American Farmland Trusts Farmland Information Center, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service revamped an Orange County, N.Y., land classification system. That revised systemwith original site assessment criteriaspawned the LESA score.
Winnebago County Board member Pete MacKay (R-5) said basing anything on a LESA score is ludicrous.
MacKay questioned Winnebago County Zoning Board of Appeals and Zoning Committee members judgment. According to MacKay, even Laona Township officials were curious about opposition to the proposed map amendment.
County Board member Jim Webster (R-2) said, He (MacKay) has never liked the LESA score.
Webster said the proposed map amendment wasnt consistent with the countys land use plan. He admonished MacKay for his comments about both the Zoning Board of Appeals and Zoning Committee. He said MacKay should respect those members expertise.
MacKay put his support behind property owner George H. Andersons map amendment request, which would rezone 2978 Rockton Rd. in Rockton Township from agricultural priority to rural agricultural.
I think wed be doing this citizen and every other taxpayer a favor, he said.
This time, not everyone agreed with MacKay. The County Board defeated the proposed map amendment by a vote of 3-24. County Board member Dave Yeske (R-2) was among those who voted against it. Yeske noted Rockton Township was against the map amendment.
Yeske said despite the moniker, the rural agricultural designation doesnt protect farmland. According to Yeske, that zoning classification creates residential areas.
The Township filed a legal objection, according to county documents. Because of the legal objection, the proposed map amendment needed a super majority21 yes votes out of 28to pass.
Before the Anderson request was approved by a vote of 21-6, County Board member Pearl Hawks (D-6) wondered why the Zoning Committee recommended denial of Allen and Robin Millers request for a zoning map amendment. The Millers wanted to rezone 5 acres at 7811 Judd Rd. in Pecatonica township from agricultural priority to rural agricultural.
According to County Board member Chris K. Johnson (R-4), there was a lot of negativity in the air. Johnson said controversy about recent developments fueled that negativity.
But Hawks said, We cannot vote on speculation, adding feelings shouldnt influence decisions.
County Board member Gary Jury (R-3) said consistency doesnt seem either the Zoning Board of Appeals or Zoning Committees strong suit. According to Jury, a lot of zoning is just common sense.
County Board member Tom Owens (R-1) and neighbors and all area governmental units supported the Millers request.
From the june 28-July 4, 2006, issue