Officials warn county about dangers of PCDs in Winnebago, Rockton

Open letter to taxpayers of the villages, townships and cities of Winnebago County

There is a new procedure being used by developers called Planned Community Development, or PCD. This new development procedure has a huge loophole in it that prevents townships and villages from becoming legal objectors. If objectors were allowed, the township or village governments could object, and that would require the County Board to have a two-thirds majority to pass. Without the legal objector possibility, only a simple majority is required. Herein lies the problem. With a few exceptions, the County Board has been bought by the developers. Huge contributions to the board members’ campaigns ensures they will vote in favor of the developers. These members no longer represent the people who elected them, and they should be removed from office.

People elected to public office are required to report who their campaign funds came from and to fill out a Statement of Economic Interest to prevent any conflict of interest between their elected office and their personal lives. This is a matter of public record. These records can be obtained from the County Clerk’s office and are available under the Freedom of Information Act.

Lawyers that serve these governmental entities are appointed by the mayor, village president or township supervisor with the advice and consent of their various boards. They are not required to provide this data.

The Nicolosi law firm represents Rockton, Roscoe, Caledonia, Loves Park, Rochelle, and now Machesney Park is considering hiring them to study the Illinois 173 corridor land grab. According to The Rock River Times, this law firm is in the development business owning Buckley Partners, Buckley Holdings, The Principal Group LLC, Buckley Title and Buckley Construction.

It is hard to imagine a bigger conflict of interest. This was amplified Thursday May 25, when the County Board hired the Nicolosi law firm to work on the county development plan.

It is time for the people to take back their local and county governments from the special interest groups. Our representatives were elected to serve the people.

Dean G. Mohring

Rockton Township Trustee

Unplanned County Developments—Winnebago & Rockton’s Cannell

Winnebago County is now seeing developers use an ordinance loophole. This is called “Special Use Permit for Planned Community Development” or often referred to as “PCD.” This helps the developer pass new development in rural areas without regard for neighboring residents, communities or school districts. Winnebago School District will be the first to see the effects, and Shirland schools could be next.

The problem with this “Special Use” label is that it does not allow “legal objectors” to the development. This then only requires a majority vote to pass, where if legal objectors were allowed, it would require a super majority, or a two-thirds vote, to pass.

While as a Village Trustee of Rockton, I feel this is a heated issue for our community and surrounding communities, that is not where my comments are directed. At issue here is our Winnebago County Board and its members that represent the communities they serve.

This “PCD” is far from the name. This whole thing needs to be restructured to allow the local communities and surrounding people to have the ability to become those “legal objectors.” The county now has more control over all rural developments then the local towns and villages. What they fail to understand is that probably every community in the county has their own version of a “PCD.” These communities like to call this a Comprehensive Plan.

Communities put together these Comprehensive Plans to control their growth to planned areas in and around their community. In these plans, they have identified where future commercial development, industrial, residential and agricultural growth is to occur. That is not to say the communities will follow their own Comprehensive Plans, but there is a plan in place. The communities have control of whether they follow their own plan.

While many of you may think this really does not have any effect on you if you live in Rockford or other communities, it actually can in many ways that you cannot even think of. In our small community in Rockton, the village is trying to secure a Pre-Annexation agreement with the developer. While many people will argue this point, the village could eventually be responsible for the water and sewer extension to this property at a cost of a few million dollars. There are ways to recoup these costs, like a Special Assessment for the property owners in the development. That would be great, but developers stick legal language in these agreements that basically says that no form of taxation will be assessed to the property owners that will improve the value of their property. So, the local community taxpayers could eventually have the burden of these costs on them.

What is needed here is for every household in the county to contact your local Winnebago County Boeard representative and let them know that you are against these “PCD” developments. Let them know that these types of developments need to be voted down until these loopholes can be rewritten to allow the local communities and surrounding residents to become “legal objectors” and have local control over your community’s growth.

I’ve talked with my local County Board representatives in District 2, Dave Yeske of Roscoe and Jim Webster of Rockton. They are on board with this required change to the “PCD” to give more control to our local residents and communities. Also required is the support from all Winnebago County communities for this change and for them to notify the county of their objections to the current “PCD” ordinance as it is written. Residents of these communities need to get together with your local officials and request a resolution be sent from your community as to the direction that your community would like the County Board to act on this matter.

For the full unedited version of the letter, visit County Developments.pdf

For more information about the Cannell Annexation and the contamination information, visit my “personal” Web site at and visit the “Cannell” link.

For more information the “Special Use Permit for Planned Community Development,” see the Winnebago County Code of Ordinances —Chapter 90 Zoning—Section 90-57 at the following link:

Timothy A. Slocum

Winnebago County Resident,

Village of Rockton Trustee

Pollution threatens Nygren Wetland Preserve

The Board of Trustees of the Natural Land Institute opposes the request by Dyn Cannell, LLC for a Special Use Permit to build a Planned Community Development on Prairie Road in Rockton Township, directly north of our 700-acre Nygren Wetland Preserve. All of the water from the proposed development drains into the wildlife preserve as surface runoff and groundwater.

The sandy soils on the site lay over bedrock and have a limited capacity to absorb the nitrates, phosphorous, bacteria, salts, pharmaceuticals, hormones and household chemicals that leach out of septic systems into the groundwater. Even at the densities of homes allowed by the Health Department, there is a high potential these contaminates will reach the water table and eventually the Nygren Wetland Preserve. Development on this site should wait until it is served by public sewers.

A subdivision of this size will produce a significant increase in the volume and velocity of stormwater runoff. Runoff water from residential developments carries with it nutrients from lawn fertilizers, bacteria from pet droppings, oil, grease, salt and other chemicals from roads and driveways, and pesticides used on lawns, around founda

tions and along roadways. Runoff from roads and lawns carries much higher concentrations of pollutants than that washed from farm fields. Excess runoff from the proposed subdivision will wash directly into the Nygren Wetland Preserve.

Finally, the proposed design does nothing to protect or enhance the rural character of the area as required by the County’s Planned Community Development ordinance. Approval of a subdivision in a rural area under this provision of the zoning ordinance will set a terrible precedent for all future developments in agricultural areas, and it should be denied when the County Board votes on the request June 8.

Jerry Paulson

Executive Director

Natural Land Institute

Editor’s Note: See next week’s issue for more about these developments, and specifically the controversy surrounding the Centrex development in Caledonia.

From the May 31-June 6, 2006, issue

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