Meeting to pass or fail location for Rosecrance

Meeting to pass or fail location for Rosecrance

By Shellie Berg

By Shellie Berg

Staff Reporter

With all the commotion surrounding a new location for Rosecrance, the Code and Regulation Committee will review the recommendation the Zoning Board of Appeals voted in favor of Jan. 17 tonight at 5:30 in council chambers.

The ZBA approved the preannexation agreement and the zoning change, as well as reviewed safety and property value issues.

Rosecrance seeks a 50-acre site at Rote and Lyford roads for an $8 million drug/alcohol adolescent center.

“We’re very pleased with the decision, of course, from the Zoning Board of Appeals,” Rosecrance President/CEO Phil Eaton stated. “This is the first step of the process through the City of Rockford.”

But residents near the proposed location feel the center would cause a decrease in property values. They also worry that patients with criminal backgrounds could cause problems in the area.

Neighbors formed the Eastern Winnebago Residents Coalition as a result of the project. The coalition is intended to gather residents and be a “watchdog” for the development in the area, Jenice Elvin, a member, said.

Elvin expressed her disappointment with the ZBA. “It was very apparent that it was a done deal before the meeting took place,” she said. “The zoning board was shaking hands with all the Rosecrance members before the meeting had ever started.”

Eaton denied Elvin’s claims. “There’s no ‘done deal’ to my knowledge,” Eaton said. “It’s kind of a phrase people use when they’re unhappy with an outcome. Our input was presented in an open forum. There was no other input that would be submitted other than what was at the ZBA meeting.”

Elvin believes the city ignores the proper locations. “The city obviously does not care where they put certain businesses,” she noted. “A business such as Rosecrance needs to be in a business area, not a residential area.”

She said Eaton should consider areas in northwest Rockford, perhaps near the county’s juvenile center or animal shelter.

Elvin noted that residents fear patients who possess criminal backgrounds might need to use the telephone and stop at a neighboring home.

But Eaton considers people’s fears unfounded. “I think, from where I sit, it appears that the stereotypes that are being drawn and created in opposition to a substance-abuse center are clearly that—they are stereotypes that, in reality, are not consistent with actual experience by neighbors in a community that has operated in very close proximity to this program in many, many years,” Eaton said. “We’re hopeful in the outcome we can get about our business of treating kids.”

Residents have repeatedly stated that they support the mission of Rosecrance. What they say they vehemently oppose is the facility’s location, and the steamrolling of their power to protect their personal property rights and values in determining the character of their neighborhood.

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