County votes for sprawl?

Before the vote on September 26, on whether Winnebago County should set aside $1.5 million to purchase the right of way for the Perryville Road extension north of Illinois 173, County Board Chair Kristine Cohn (R) said, “We’re working with interested parties to get the best deal for the county.”

The final vote was 19-7 in favor of buying about three miles of right of way from Illinois 173 to Belvidere Road, which is part of the 2003 fiscal year budget for the county. Purchasing the right of way does not guarantee that the road will be built.

However, it does indicate that the county will be “working with interested parties,” as Cohn stated, to see that the road extends farther.

While some community leaders and members have claimed that this money will fuel economic expansion and pave the way to prosperity, others have expressed concerns that the extension will add to the growing problems of suburban sprawl and ecological damage.

One amendment, which supporters said would have allowed the $1.5 million to be used for other road projects, was defeated 20-6. The opposition claimed the money could not be transferred to other projects.

During discussion of that amendment, some

board members displayed confusion as to what a yes or no vote would mean in terms of financing the right of way.

Emotions also ran high. Susan McDonald (R-1) gave an impassioned address in which she angrily stated, “All we’re trying to ensure here is orderly growth. The $1.5 million for Public Works cannot be moved anywhere. Defeat this amendment!”

And John Terranova (R-9) tersely argued, “I believe there is only one

part of this (Perryville) extension that is

controversial.” Terranova was referring to the part of the proposed extension that was supposed to run through a nature area that is owned by Roscoe Township.

Prior to the discussion of amendments, Linda Vaughn, the president of Machesney Park, pleaded to the board for the extension by saying, “I see the extension of Perryville as crucial to the growth of Machesney Park.We know that (Illinois) 173 is the next growth corridor,” and “we are planning for growth by promoting this extension. If the county board does not approve the extension, then we will do what we need to, by doing what is best for the village.”

However, in an interview on the Chris Bowman Show on WNTA (1330 AM), the day after the vote, Vaughn appears to have contradicted her earlier statements about planning for growth. She acknowledged that the plan she has advocated was done prior to several smart growth meetings in which the village participated. That inferred that the plan she pitched to the board was one that was other than smart growth. To which Bowman responded, “It sounds like dumb growth.”

Vaughn went on to state that the developers who are concerned with the right of way are “First Rockford Group and McKiski (Realtors).”

At the September 30 meeting of the Rockford City Council, Alderman Doug Mark (R-3), commented about the county’s Perryville vote by saying, it “really hurts established neighborhoods on the east side” of Rockford. He concluded, “smart growth should be smart growth. I hope we (the city and the county) can work together” to achieve smart growth.

Here is how the board members voted on the 2003 budget, which included $1.5 million for the purchase of right of way to possibly extend Perryville Road north of Illinois 173 to Belvidere Road:

Yes: Mary Ann Aiello (R-8), Larry Bauer R-2), John Ekberg (R-10), John Elliot (R-8), Ray Graceffa (R-7), Pearl Hawks (D-6), Amy Hill(D-12), Charles Hollerith III (R-2), Gary Jury (R-3), Don Kerestes (R-4), Sue McDonald (R-1), James Peterson (D-13), Bruce Roberts

(R-9), Jim Sacia (R-1), Randy Sturm (R-5), John Terranova (R-9), Patti Thayer (R-4), Beth Wait (R-14), Glenn Wilkins (R-3);

No: Polly Berg (D-7), Cheryl Box (D-6), George Coffey (D-11), Mark Dauenbaugh (D-11), Peter MacKay (R-5), Rick Pollack (R-13), Reggie Taylor (D-12);

Absent: Bob Kinnison (R-10), John Sweeny (R-14).

Here is how the board members voted on the amendment that supporters say would have freed up $1.5 million for other road projects. The opposition claimed the money could not be transferred to other projects:

Yes: Polly Berg (D-7), Larry Bauer (R-2), Charles Hollerith III (R-2), Gary Jury (R-3), Peter MacKay (R-5), Glenn Wilkins (R-3);

No: Mary Ann Aiello (R-8), Cheryl Box (D-6), George Coffey (D-11), Mark Dauenbaugh (D-11), John Ekberg (R-10), John Elliot (R-8), Ray Graceffa (R-7), Pearl Hawks (D-6), Amy Hill (D-12), Don Kerestes (R-4), Sue McDonald (R-1), James Peterson (D-13), Rick Pollack (R-13), Bruce Roberts (R-9), Jim Sacia (R-1), Randy Sturm (R-5), Reggie Taylor (D-12), John Terranova (R-9), Patti Thayer (R-4), Beth Wait (R-14);

Absent: Bob Kinnison (R-10), John Sweeny (R-14).

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