First proposed amendment to 2030 plan set for Aug. 13 vote

July 29, 2009

· Other news and notes from the July 23 Winnebago County Board meeting, MacKay retires

An ordinance to amend the county’s 2030 Land Resource Management Plan received a first reading during the board’s July 23 meeting, and should face a vote Aug. 13.

The 2030 land-use plan is a roadmap for the county’s growth and development during the next 20 years, and the ordinance would change the designations of two areas from low-density residential to agricultural.

The amendment targets the areas bordered by Weldon, Kelly, Meridian and Montague roads, and Meridian, Centerville and Tipple roads.

The City of Rockford made the request before the 2030 plan was adopted, but the amendment was dropped from the plan at the last minute.

A measure by Randy Olson (R-1) to return “Amendment 7” to the 2030 plan was referred to the board’s Zoning Committee in June, but the committee felt the proposed amendment should first be given a public hearing before the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA).

The state’s attorney’s office, however, ruled a ZBA hearing was not in order, and the ordinance was back before the Zoning Committee during its July 22 meeting.

Although Rockford corporate limits are more than a mile-and-a-half away from the areas in question—which means it has no authority in the matter—the city does plan to eventually annex the land.

The city sought the agricultural designation as a means to ensure any development there in the interim connects to public sewer and water.

The 2030 plan document indicates development on septic systems should be discouraged, but some board members feel the county will retain more control over what can be developed in the area by keeping the low-density classification.

As agricultural, Angie Goral (D-7) argued, “That land can be used for anything.”

Steve Schultz (R-2) did not see eye-to-eye with Goral, however.

“[Low-density residential] leaves the door open for septic development, and that’s the concern,” he reported, specifically referencing opposition by Severson Dells and the Natural Land Institute. “And it’s not a foregone conclusion as to what this property is gonna end up becoming.”

Noting the proximity of existing sewer lines, Goral noted: “It wouldn’t take that much to get to it, so I don’t know why we’re arguing about septic and wells. We already have that sewer right about where it belongs anyway. By the time you begin to develop this into low-density, chances are the sewer will be out there, and we won’t have to worry about septic. I don’t see septic being a problem. I really don’t. We have too much sewer out in that area as it is right now.”

Schultz, however, argued the existing sewer cannot handle the added capacity of significant development in the area.

Zoning Committee Chairman Pete MacKay (R-5) asserted he’s lived on septic systems his entire life without any problems. He’s also argued septic systems are more reliable than sewers, and has resisted all efforts for the 2030 plan to require connection to public infrastructure.

Frank Gambino (R-14) referenced the Village of Winnebago’s plans to annex nearby property, once planned for an ethanol plant, suggesting Winnebago is more likely to annex the land affected by Amendment 7 before the City of Rockford does.

Todd Cagnoni, deputy director of the city’s construction and development division, indicated Rockford has no agreement with the Village of Winnebago regarding the parcels.

The committee voted 3-2 to recommend denial of Amendment 7 to the full board. Gambino, Goral and MacKay voted “no.”

MacKay bids farewell to board

Effective July 31, Pete MacKay (R-5) will no longer be a Winnebago County Board member. Chairman Scott Christiansen (R) presented MacKay with a plaque to honor his 29 years of service to the county.

MacKay served on the board from 1978-1992, and again from 1994 to the present.

“You’ll be sorely missed,” Christiansen told MacKay, who received a standing ovation from all in attendance.

“I believe that I did my duty honorably as a county board member,” MacKay said. “I think I stood for the taxpayers.”

Paul Gorski, MacKay’s Democrat counterpart in District 5, described MacKay as one of his closest friends, not only on the board, but in the entire community.

After having lost his Rockford Township Highway Commissioner post to Dan Conness (D) in April, MacKay was forced to step down from the board, because remaining a member would have cost him $4,000 per month once he began drawing his township pension.

Resolutions were passed…

u Proclaiming Baxter Road, between Mulford Road and I-39, to be given the honorary name of Sam Maggio Road. Signage costs will be paid by Maggio.

u Supporting efforts of the Illinois Toll Highway Authority to provide noise buffering on I-90 along Roscoe’s Emerald Ridge subdivision.

Public comments

Mike Castronovo, owner of Studio B Digital Recording, criticized the design of recent improvements along Harrison Avenue.

Specifically, he noted a left-turn lane to Carman Drive is twice the length of those provided to eastbound Harrison Avenue traffic at Perryville Road.

“Very few cars go down Carman,” he explained, questioning the need for such a lengthy turn lane. “You can fit 23 cars on the turn lane for Carman. You can only fit 20 cars for Perryville. That seems backwards to me.

“It’s so far back that people may get in that turn lane, thinking they’re getting in the turn lane for Perryville, and suddenly they realize, ‘Oops. This is the Carman turn lane,’” he explained. “Now, they’ve gotta go around a little teardrop median that’s put there to get back over, and around the teardrop, into the turn lanes for Perryville.”

Castronovo described the situation as a safety issue.

Speaking on Castronovo’s behalf, Nancy Edwardsen encouraged the board to revisit a resolution to eliminate a median in front of Castronovo’s business.

“We need to consider the small businesses,” she said, “because mom-and-pop stores have failed in this county in the last eight years, and we need to realign our thinking.”

Castronovo, who pleaded for months with the board to allow eastbound traffic to make left turns into his business, was not permitted to speak during the July 9 meeting, because the median issue had already been decided, and because of his previous comments suggesting Highway Engineer Joe Vanderwerff should be relieved of duty. Chairman Scott Christiansen (R) explained personnel issues are not to be discussed in open session.

Recognition

Brad Benjamin, a graduate of Rockford Guilford High School, was honored for winning the U.S. Amateur Public Links Tournament, which qualifies him for the Masters Tournament in Augusta, Ga.

Appointments, re-appointment

Chairman Christiansen, Rockford Township Supervisor Mickey Goral, Harlem Township Supervisor Doug Aurand, Owen Township Supervisor Owen Bach and Cherry Valley Township Supervisor Randy Sturm were appointed to a newly-created Public Aid Committee, whereby residents may appeal denial of aid from townships.

Donald Massier was re-appointed to a three-year term with the Rock River Water Reclamation District, expiring May 2012.

Absence

Dave Fiduccia (R-4) was absent.

from the July 29-August 4, 2009, issue

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