County Board to accept public comments regarding subdivision
• News and notes from the Feb. 25 Winnebago County Board meeting
By Stuart R. Wahlin
At the request of Zoning Committee Chairman John F. Sweeney (R-14), Winnebago County Board members opted to delay a vote Feb. 25 regarding the final plat of the 9.89-acre Garden Estates subdivision, owned by Gensler Gardens, at 7631 Stillman Valley Road in Rockford Township.
Paul Gorski (D-5), who told The Rock River Times prior to the meeting that he planned to request a layover, seconded Sweeney’s motion.
Although Sweeney’s reason for the layover was so that the plat could be voted on together with a related item—a variation request to waive the sewer requirement for the four-lot subdivision—Gorski said he wants other interested parties to have an opportunity to address board members about the issue.
Board rules typically do not allow public comments regarding zoning matters to be voted on, but based on a comment by Planning & Zoning Officer Troy Krup, Gorski noted the measure is technically a subdivision ordinance matter, not a zoning issue, per se.
“Last night [at the Zoning Committee meeting], there was some discussion about the final plat compared to other zoning issues, and whether or not hearings are required,” Gorski explained. “I have at least one person that would like to make a comment on the final plat and the variation to the plat at the next meeting.”
Because there was no Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) hearing regarding the request, Gorski noted, there was no opportunity provided for public input.
Asked whether people would be granted an opportunity to speak to the issue during the March 11 meeting, Sweeney responded: “I’m sure, since we’re not bound by ZBA testimony rules for this particular one, that’d be fine. …They certainly have the right to do that.”
Chairman Scott Christiansen (R) noted, however, that requests to make public comments must be made to his office in writing. Requests to speak at the March 11 meeting must be received by noon that day. Public participation request forms can be found online at http://www.co.winnebago.il.us/deptHome.asp?deptID=1090&pgID=397.
In 2008, board members agreed to change the area’s zoning from Agricultural Priority to Rural Estate. The City of Rockford has also penned a pre-annexation agreement with the owners.
Because it is not particularly feasible to run public infrastructure to the site, the owners are requesting a waiver of the sewer requirement. Both the city’s and county’s long-term growth and planning goals, however, discourage new developments on well and septic systems.
“It’d be our first test of sticking to the 2030 plan,” Gorski asserted.
County seeks reimbursement from Justice Center designer
Durrant Group, Inc., with offices in Arizona, Colorado and Iowa, was awarded a bid exceeding $5 million in 2003 to serve as architects of the Winnebago County Justice Center.
The county is now seeking reimbursement for a number of alleged issues that arose during the process of completing the new jail.
Dave Kurlinkus, head of the state’s attorney’s civil division, indicated, “It involves, basically, some additional work that we feel had to be done in order to make the criminal justice center safe and secure.”
Kurlinkus said the county paid for the necessary work and is now seeking reimbursement from Durrant. An answer to the complaint is expected by the middle of April.
“Negotiations continue in an attempt to settle this short of all-out litigation,” Kurlinkus added.
Asked how much money the county stands to recoup, Chairman Scott Christiansen (R) would only say “several hundred-thousand” dollars.
Durrant CEO Charles Marsden would not immediately comment for publication, but noted a counterclaim has been filed against the county.
• Executing an agreement with New York-based Metropolitan Life Insurance to offer voluntary life insurance coverage to 1,284 eligible county employees through Dec. 31.
• Authorizing the $500,000 settlement, plus $4,566.60 in related expenses, of pending litigation in the case of Rodney Wilken, et al. vs. County of Winnebago, et al. $250,000 of the settlement cost is covered by the county’s insurance. The lawsuit is reportedly the result of a traffic accident allegedly related to a county traffic sign that had been knocked down. The county is deemed partially liable because the Highway Department was allegedly aware of the downed sign, but did not replace it in a timely manner.
• Authorizing a $14,500 settlement of a permanent disability claim by Daniel Williams for injuries sustained while employed by the Sheriff’s Department.
• Authorizing execution of an agreement with the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) for federal participation of up to $400,000 for the rehabilitation of the Perryville Road bridge over the Kishwaukee River’s south branch, just north of Blackhawk Road.
• Authorizing the appropriation of $4.3 million in Motor Fuel Tax (MFT) funds for the maintenance of county highways.
Stephen Burns was reappointed to a six-year term with Pecatonica’s Hulse Cemetery Association, expiring May 2015.
Bob Kinnison (R-10), Tom Owens (R-1) and Rick Pollack (R-13) were absent.
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