ν News and notes from the Aug. 27 Winnebago County Board meeting
By Stuart R. Wahlin
After a two-week layover, the Winnebago County Board unanimously approved a special-use permit (SUP) Aug. 27 to allow a commercial stables operation at Stone Ledge Farm, 6912 Manchester Road, in Roscoe Township.
District 3 board members Kyle Logan (R) and Doug Aurand (D) requested the layover for more time to review the matter, including talking with a handful of neighbors who were opposed to the SUP requested by James and Rebecca Gruenberg.
Aurand explained: “I know that some of the neighbors have had some concerns. I’ve talked to several of them, and I’ve assured them that, let’s give these folks an opportunity, and let’s hope everything works out and all their agreements are followed.”
The neighbors had expressed concern that allowing the stables to operate commercially would increase traffic to the area, thereby compromising its rural atmosphere.
Logan thanked colleagues for allowing the two-week layover at the previous meeting, which several board members had been opposed to, arguing the Gruenbergs stood to lose money as a result of the delay.
“In going out and looking at the property, and talking to everybody, reviewing the ZBA notes, I would wholeheartedly encourage everybody to support the petition,” Logan asserted, calling the commercial stables “proper zoning” for the Agricultural Priority District.
Referencing a pending pre-annexation agreement with the City of South Beloit, despite a desire by the Village of Roscoe to lure the Gruenbergs into a similar agreement, Aurand said, “We get into little turf wars up there, it seems, between Roscoe and South Beloit.”
Once approved by voice vote, applause erupted from dozens of supporters in the gallery as County Board Chairman Scott Christiansen (R) congratulated the petitioners.
In other zoning news, board members passed a resolution to waive approximately $1,000 in building permit fees for Harlem Consolidated Schools. Each year, the county votes to waive the fees for Harlem’s vocational training program.
Board OKs Health Department fee hikes
The board passed an ordinance approving inspection and permitting fee increases for the Winnebago County Health Department’s Environmental Division.
Larry Swacina, environmental health director, explained: “We had attempted to look at what the actual costs were for the Winnebago County Health Department. It had been about 10 years since an increase. We were trying to just break even with our costs. Due to decreases from the Illinois Department of Public Health, and also stress at the local property tax levy, we’re attempting to recoup some additional costs in the way of fees to reduce the burden on the local property tax levy.”
The increased fees apply to private well and septic construction, food plan reviews and restaurant sanitation inspections.
The board unanimously passed a resolution endorsing intercity passenger rail service among Chicago, Belvidere, Rockford, Freeport and Galena in Illinois, and Dubuque, Iowa.
The Illinois Department of Transportation funded a feasibility study for proposed Amtrak service, and recommends that service be restored to the region.
Essentially, the board resolution encourages state lawmakers to stay on task with the passenger rail initiative for northern Illinois.
For more information, visit www.bringrail.com.
Board members also passed a resolution expressing official intent to designate Winnebago County a Recovery Zone through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009.
To qualify for the stimulus bond programs, municipalities must meet criteria indicating significant poverty, unemployment, foreclosures and “general distress.”
The county stands to acquire $11,631,000 in Recovery Zone Economic Development bonding, which allows local governments to borrow at a lower cost for a variety of economic development projects.
The county is also eligible for $17,447,000 in Recovery Zone Facility bonds, which offers tax exemptions to private investors for capital projects.
Aug. 31, the Rockford City Council gave final approval to a similar measure designating the city a Recovery Zone.
2030 plan grant deadline extended
The Illinois Department of Transportation approved a one-year deadline extension Aug. 27 for the county to submit bills related to its 2030 land-use plan, which serves as a guide for the county’s growth and development during the next 20 years.
The board convened in closed session to discuss pending litigation.
The week of Sept. 17-23 was proclaimed U.S. Constitution Week.
From the September 2-8, 2009 issue