Woods destroyed for development

Woods destroyed for development

By Shellie Berg

By Shellie Berg

Staff Reporter

Red-tailed hawks are heard screeching as the birds’ habitat is being destroyed in the woods residents have relished since buying their homes in LeeLand Place and the Woods of Bellshire, off Rote Road.

They just recently learned of the development of 18 houses that will require chopping down several trees between the subdivisions and disrupting a horde of wildlife and vegetation.

First Rockford Group, the developer, sold the property to Three Hammer Construction and had Carl Flood market and sell lots and homes for the Woods of Bellshire.

Developer Jean Sooter and residents said Carl Flood lied to them and indicated there would merely be a short cul-de-sac that would consume a small portion of the woods. Campbell said she was told there was “no need to notify owners. It was zoned R-1 years ago.” Flood refused to talk to The Rock River Times.

Scott Capovilla, director of residential development at First Rockford Group, said the land was zoned residential in 1994, and residents should have checked into that.

Woods are located beyond the backyard of Todd and Karen McCann. The McCanns held a meeting at their home on Saturday, June 30, that area residents attended. They bought their house two and a half years ago, and the picturesque scene attracted them to the lot.

Jill Alsbury and her husband purchased the lot and paid a premium price because of the view of the woods. “This was our dream home,” she noted. “We just got married. We planned on retiring here. I honestly can’t say that we plan to stay.”

Alsbury indicated she would have purchased a less expensive lot elsewhere had she known of the development. She said she made the mistake of not getting promises in writing.

Alderman Bob Green (R-1), who was one council member who approved the plat recently at a City Council meeting, attended the residents’ meeting.

Green agreed with Alsbury. “If it wasn’t in writing, it’s kind of iffy for everybody. I wish I had a nickel for every promise that was made but not fulfilled (by developers).”

He said he plans to follow up with residents. “I’m not sure if there’s anything the city can particularly do,” he stated. “My understanding is First Rockford Group never indicated, to my knowledge, that the woods would be staying.”

Green said that if he knew about the promises made, he might have still approved the plat because the issue is not a city issue; it’s between the developers, real estate agent and residents.

He told residents the tree removal would commence July 10. But on Monday, July 2, contractors began to cut down trees.

Green said he lacked the ability to influence ending the process of removing the woods.

“We were glad he showed up, but we were very disappointed,” Karen McCann said.

McCann and other residents are concerned about vegetation and wildlife. Animals spotted include deer and a variety of birds. “We have great horned owls,” McCann said. “We have two sets of red-tailed hawks.”

Wetlands also take up much of the land, and residents are concerned about damage. Capovilla said First Rockford Group will avoid the 250 x 300-foot wetlands. First Rockford Group obtained a variation to create a 700-foot cul-de-sac, the city’s ordinance states it can’t exceed 500 feet. Capovilla said the cul-de-sac will go around the wetlands.

He said it’s ironic that people are complaining about wetlands being affected because up and down Bell School Road, they are being filled in. “We’re following all the rules and regulations, and it appears that people all around us are not,” he said. “Maybe people who are concerned about the environment should look into that, also.”

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