Aldermen approve west-side grocery store, ordinances get votes

By Jim Hagerty
Staff Writer

Rockford’s west side will soon be home to a new grocery store at the corner of West State Street and Central Avenue, aldermen approved Monday, Aug. 4.

The vote was 11-1 for an agreement with IFF, a nonprofit developer that plans to build and lease a new, 15,000 square-foot facility to Save-A-Lot. The project is expected to come with an estimated cost of $3 million, financed mostly through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. The city would also contribute $500,000 in TIF funds.

The only “no” vote came from Ald. Linda McNeely, who represents the 13th Ward. McNeely said with Aldi just a short drive north, a similar, low-cost grocery won’t fill the void in the area. What will, McNeely told the council, is a store like Meijer or Schnucks. The closest Schnucks is on Charles Street, while the area’s only Meijer store is in Beloit, Wisconsin. Meijer plans to open a superstore in Machesney Park next year.

The new Sav-A-Lot is also expected to open some time in 2015.

Guard dog provision scrapped

A provision passed in January excluding guard dogs from City of Rockford Ordinance [Barking Dogs and Animal Noise] 4-59 was scrapped Monday, meaning all barking dogs will again be treated equally under the law. However, the ordinance requires complaints to include video or audio footage documenting at least 10 minutes of barking. At east two neighbors from two households must also witness the incessant noise. If two neighbors are not available, a person may file a complaint if a police officer or county animal control officer serves as a witness.

In other business, the Rockford Apartment Association unsuccessfully continued its opposition Monday to a proposal for the City of Rockford to establish a Code Hearing Department to deal with ordinance violations. City officials say the department will allow violations to be prosecuted without costly court hearings. Association President Paul Arena says the ordinance gives the city power it should not possess.

“They now can prosecute a chronic nuisance party in City Hall and not in front of a judge,” Arena said.

Before Monday’s council meeting, the apartment association addressed aldermen in a letter, requesting a vote against a code department. The association asked the council to keep the law in the circuit court.

“The news structure would make the city the police, judge and jury, allowing them to collect fines without impartial oversight,” the letter claims. “The system puts accused citizens at a significant disadvantage. To challenge an improper fine imposed by a code hearing department is often more costly than the fine itself. Our proposed amendment offers clarity to how ordinances be prosecuted.”

Aldermen voted 8-4 in favor of the measure.

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