County Board to consider amendment to subdivision asking for septic
• News and notes from the March 11 Winnebago County Board meeting
By Stuart R. Wahlin
In a 16-11 vote March 11, members of the Winnebago County Board laid over a final plat and a variation to waive the sewer requirement for the 9.89-acre proposed Garden Estates subdivision at 7631 Stillman Valley Road in Rockford Township. (See “County’s stance vs. septic faces first test” in the March 3-9 issue).
The owners, Gensler Gardens, Inc., want three or four homes on the property for Gensler family members. But because there is no public sewer or water available in the area, the homes would have to be built on well and septic systems, which the county’s 2030 Land Resource Management Plan opposes.
Although the board’s Zoning Committee decided to permit comments during its Feb. 24 meeting, no public hearing was required for the requests, because they are governed by the Subdivision Code, not the Zoning Code. Therefore, the matters did not come before the Zoning Board of Appeals for a public hearing.
Typically, members of the public are not allowed to speak at board meetings regarding zoning issues to be voted on. But because the plat and variation requests do not fall under the Zoning Code, members of the public were permitted to address the issue during the March 11 board meeting.
Jake Henry, nearby resident in southwestern Winnebago County, referenced an article in this publication during his remarks.
“Mr. Gensler is quoted in the paper as saying: ‘We’re going to keep as many trees as we possibly can. That’s the part of this piece that I really love,’” Henry read out loud. “Putting four homes in less than 10 acres and putting septic in there is going to tear out a lot of trees. Also, I’m wondering, when the septic’s put in, as he’s on the top of the hill, what’s that gonna do to the properties that will eventually be built in the low-density housing that’s in the 2030 plan?
“And speaking of the 2030 plan, that called for 40 acres if you were going to build a house,” he added, referring to exceptions to the sewer requirement in the 2030 plan. “It seems like this buying 10 acres, and then calling it a subdivision, is just a way to skirt the law.”
Frank Schier, editor and publisher of The Rock River Times, also urged board members to adhere to the plan they adopted last year.
“I and many others, in the many focus groups and public hearings, stressed the desire for sewer and water for development within a mile-and-a-half of any municipalities and borders,” he indicated. “The final plat variation that’s under discussion for you tonight, owned by the Gensler family, is the first test of this plan.
“I helped pay for that,” Schier said of the land-use plan. “In fact, you all paid for it. Stick with that plan, or my money and all the other taxpayers’ money is being wasted.
“Now this came across before the final passage of the 2030 plan,” he acknowledged. “And many of us know the Genslers were given a pretty hard time by the city, and the city in return allowed for septic in the pre-annexation agreement [approved by the Rockford City Council late last year]. That was the city’s behavior, horse trading and mistake—not the county’s.
“With all due respect to the Genslers—it’s a fine family with a fine business—you have to look at the greater good and not stick with defeatist timing,” Schier continued. “Stick with the plan for the taxpayers’ futures, or sign yourself up for a future of never-ending battles. Consider the wind ordinance lawsuit that was predicted is now upon us.”
Schier noted the board’s decision would affect the Kishwaukee River and its watershed, urging the body to be good stewards of its natural resources.
“Make this first exception, let them build it, and others will come saying, ‘You let the Genslers get the exception. They’re the precedents. Now you have to let us do it, too, if you let them,’” Schier warned, suggesting instead a compromise. “Require the strictest elements and even cutting-edge features of Conservation Design development.”
When the matters came to the floor for voties, Paul Gorski (D-5) echoed the sentiments.
“As we had a couple of speakers mention, we’re being tested this evening,” he concurred. “The passage of the final plat, and more so the variation of that plat, is a test of how we’re going to stick to the 2030 plan. We’ve spent how many years working on that?
“And here we have before us a clear deviation,” Gorski noted. “I would ask that we stick by our guns, stick by the plan that we spent so much time working on. And I would ask you to either vote against it, or I’d like to make an amendment to the variation to include conditions regarding Conservation Design elements.”
Gorski moved that both items be laid over in order to allow time for the drafting of such an amendment prior to the March 25 meeting.
Doug Aurand (D-3), Isidro Barrios (D-13), Bob Hastings (D-13), Kyle Logan (R-3), Wendy Owano (R-5), Tom Owens (R-1), Dianne Parvin (R-4), Lynne Strathman (R-1), John F. Sweeney (R-14), David Tassoni (D-7) and Fred Wescott (R-9) voted against the layover, but the motion prevailed.
• Authorizing the county treasurer to borrow up to $4 million from uncommitted county highway funds for obligations not related to highways. The resolution specifies that the borrowed funds will be repaid by the end of 2010 fiscal year.
• Approving an application to be made available for Recovery Zone Facility Bonds under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The bonds are tax-exempt and may be used to finance private business development. Under the ARRA, $17,447,000 of such bonds has been allocated for Winnebago County. The county will review any submitted application before making a recommendation to the County Board regarding the issuance of the bonds.
• Authorizing professional services agreements with Carol Stream-based Testing Service Corporation for construction materials testing and inspection services related to improvements at Ralston Road and Bluebonnet Drive, as well the resurfacing of Willowbrook Road, between Elevator and McCurry roads. The agreements are worth $11,800 and $5,900, respectively.
• Authorizing an intergovernmental agreement with the City of Rockford for the jurisdictional transfer of a culvert under Alpine Road, between Linden and Samuelson roads.
• Modifying a professional services agreement with Arnold Lundgren & Associates regarding safety and traffic congestion improvements to Meridian Road, between Cunningham and Knapp roads. Per the modification, $1,500 will be added to the existing $59,500 agreement for additional surveying.
• Authorizing a no-bid contract for architect services and a program statement regarding the Health Department’s relocation of some operations to the recently-purchased 555 N. Court St. Richard L. Johnson Associates, Inc., will be paid $185,000 and $60,500 to design and develop specifications for the remodeling of the department’s Court Street and Division Street facilities, respectively. Steve Schultz (R-2), who was among those to vote against the county’s purchase of the Court Street building, voted “no” to the contract. The remodeling projects are expected to cost more than $4 million.
• Authorizing River Bluff Nursing Home Administrator Pam Gentner to enter into a contract with Heartland Hospice Service, LLC for hospice services in the nursing home.
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