Neighboring property owners surprised by developer’s east-side plans

Adjacent property owners received a “Public Hearing Notice” (dated Feb. 6, 2006) from the City of Rockford Community Development informing them of an annexation and rezoning request.

The developers, Erickson Group/Guilford Investment, L.L.C., are requesting annexation and rezoning of approximately 40 acres of land from its present residential R-1 zoning to commercial C-2 and R-2 duplex. The land is located south and east of the Walgreens at the intersection of North Alpine and Guilford Road.

First, the proposed development comes as a big surprise and has area neighbors concerned. Surrounding properties are predominantly zoned R-1.

Second, Alpine Road is already commercially overdeveloped.

Third, safety! Alpine and Guilford Road barely handle current traffic conditions. The roads are frequent sites of accidents. Recent IDOT (Illinois Department of Transportation) traffic counts show 29,000 vehicles use Alpine and 14,000 use Guilford Road. Further commercial development and increased housing density compound traffic conditions, and raise the potential risks of future accidents and serious injury.

A public hearing about this application was set by the Rockford Board of Appeals for Wednesday, Feb. 22, at 6:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers on the second floor of Rockford City Hall. Several of the concerned neighborhood residents are expected to attend.

Growth and development is inevitable. However, the question will be if the interests of neighborhoods and adjacent property owners are considered. Is annexation viewed as an opportunity to raise city revenue for the short term, costing taxpayers more in the long term? Is there a Council member mindset that annexation, rezoning and developer accommodation is fine “except in my ward”? The City in the last several months has seen several development proposals. Current residents of Franklin Place are experiencing controversy in the 14-story condominium approved with a variance by the City. Meanwhile, the City is having difficulty finding developers for the downtown River District. What next?

From the Feb. 22-28, 2006, issue

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