Development Agreement Between Stephenson County, Freeport Held Off

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For Trim-Rite or any other business opportunity to start up on land behind Kelly Springfield near Freeport, both the city and county must have an intergovernmental agreement in place.

Wednesday night, the city's Community Development Department put off that decision to give members more time to look over recent revisions on the agreement.

Concerned residents living nearby the proposed Mill Race industrial complex raised several questions about the plans. The agreement basically says the city and county are on the same page to pursue economic development for the next 23 years.

If the committee agrees to the agreement this Monday, it would then go to the full county board. Several companies, including Trim-Rite, have expressed interest in setting up on the Mill Race land.

City leaders are pleased with the county's mutual aggressiveness to lure new development, while some residents wonder if the plans really constitute smart growth.

“Although we do have some industrial parks located inside the city, our natural growth probably is around the intersections around Bypass 20," Freeport Area Economic Foundation's Bob Skurla said.

"It's always good when the city and county can work together and supposedly bring new jobs, but I think when they're thinking of a particular industry to bring here, they need to do their research if it's really what our community would want," Brenda Boynton said.

Consultants are currently preparing an incentives package to help lure new development on the land, if the county and city agree to move forward on the Mill Race industrial park.