Board continues approving septic requests
• News and notes from the July 8 Winnebago County Board meeting
By Stuart R. Wahlin
The Winnebago County Board continues receiving—and granting—requests involving development on septic systems, despite language in the new 2030 Land Resource Management Plan encouraging connection to public infrastructure.
While the 2030 plan was being developed, those providing input overwhelmingly argued the need to require connection to sewer and water as a means to slow sprawl and provide for orderly growth. Regardless of the concerns, board members opted to replace “shall” with “should” regarding connection to public utilities. Since the plan’s adoption, the board has granted every septic-oriented request. The latest occurred during the July 8 meeting, while another waits in the wings.
In a 25-2 vote, board members granted a request to rezone approximately 1.5 acres of agricultural land to commercial for Ken Ring Photography at 6392 Linden Road in Cherry Valley Township. The petition is related to an expansion of Ring’s facility, which is already built on septic, and the land-use plan’s encouragement of connection to sewer and water applies particularly to new developments.
Paul Gorski (D-5), who often takes a strong position against requests involving septic, seemed at peace with granting the zoning map amendment. Although he’d opposed the measure in committee, Gorski said he ultimately determined the request is compliant with the 2030 plan.
“This is not an expansion of septic and well in the county,” Gorski explained. “The septic and well was already there.”
Dave Yeske (R-2), another board member who favors connection to public infrastructure, did not believe the petition was entirely consistent with the plan, however.
“There are no arrangements for a commercial [property] to eventually hook up to sewer, which is part of our economic development plans for the future—to move infrastructure throughout the county,” Yeske noted. “By granting this petition, there is no provision that they would ever hook up. They could easily go to Cherry Valley, or they could go to Rockford and talk about pre-annexation and talk about provisions for the future of the sewer in that area. That way, those that move into the area are all paying for it, instead of the taxpayers within the Rock River Water Reclamation District.”
Steve Schultz (R-2) wholeheartedly agreed, reminding colleagues the Rings might not always be the property owners.
“The present plan, in terms of the utilization of this property, would not be intensive, per se, as far as sewer and water usage,” Schultz acknowledged. “But the rezoning, the change—as a map amendment—would allow for a subsequent entity, that could have a much more significant impact, to take over that property.”
Referring to the suggestion of a pre-annexation agreement, Bob Hastings (D-13) noted neither Cherry Valley nor Rockford had filed objections in this case, despite the city having done so in other septic matters.
“They had the chance to do that, so they must not have a problem with it,” he asserted.
Schultz and Yeske cast the only “no” votes, but there was another septic-related map amendment on the evening’s agenda.
A request to rezone about 10 agricultural acres to commercial first made it to the board floor last month, but Zoning Committee Chairman John F. Sweeney (R-14), at the request of petitioners David Peterson and Anthony Seminerio, asked that no vote be taken. The request has now been taken off the table until next month.
The City of Rockford has filed as a legal objector in the matter at 56XX N. Main Road in Owen Township, meaning the request must receive supermajority support for approval by the board. The petitioners, however, are hoping to come to an agreement with the city that will improve the chances of the map amendment being approved. The issue is expected to come back to the board for a vote Aug. 12.
City Plaza purchase still costing the county
In December, when the county moved ahead with the $775,000 purchase of the City Plaza, 555 N. Church St., not everyone on the board was crazy about the idea, primarily because more than $3 million in renovations are needed.
The plan is for the Health Department to consolidate three offices within the four-story building, with the county honoring existing leases. However, the costs of ownership have started to come home to roost.
July 8, board members approved $405,464 for the replacement of three rooftop cooling units and two boiler systems by Trane, of Madison, Wis. The equipment being replaced was installed in 1992.
Only two, Schultz and Sweeney, of the original five dissenters to the building’s purchase voted “no” again.
• Executing intergovernmental agreements with the county’s municipalities for the prosecution of unpaid fines by the state’s attorney’s office. In related news, board members also approved the $125,168.01 purchase of an electronic citation system from Advanced Public Safety, of Deerfield Beach, Fla. The cost is payable through $145,564 in grant funds recently awarded to the Sheriff’s Department by the U.S. Department of Justice. According to Sheriff Dick Meyers (D), the system will be integrated into the circuit clerk’s new case management database. Rockford police already use the system to print citations, replacing the practice of writing tickets by hand.
• Modifying an agreement with Hanson Professional Services, Inc., for additional engineering related to the Kishwaukee Road bridge replacement project. The $62,367 increase for Hanson brings the firm’s contract total to $265,567.
• Awarding $81,420 to William Charles Electric for the purchase of a generator for the County Administration Building.
• Appointing five precinct election judges to each county precinct, as approved by the county Republican and Democratic central committees.
• Renewing an agreement with the Village of Machesney Park for the Sheriff’s Department to offer police services.
Tami Verstraete was reappointed to a five-year term as Harlem Township’s representative on the Zoning Board of Appeals, expiring May 2015.
Wendy Owano (R-5) was absent.
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