A proposed Boone County subdivision that could house around 9,000 people may soon be under Pecatonica's control, population 2,000, located 26 miles west of the subdivision. Developer Gary Erb has been shopping the project around Boone Counnty against stiff opposition. Monday night Rockford's city council joined the list of naysayers to the annexation plan.
Belvidere and Cherry Valley turned the project down, fearing their area couldn't handle the growth. Monday night, Rockford aldermen unanimously passed a resolution saying they object to Pecatonica annexing land in Boone County, without the county board's consent.
But it's a tough deal for Pecatonica to pass up. They wouldn't have to provide extensive services and the project would generate almost $336,000 a year. That's more than half of what the village made in total tax revenue and other fees last year. Village leaders say they need the money to build a sewer plant.
But Rockford aldermen say allowing the project to move in sets a troubling precedent.
"You have zoning agreements so that Rockford knows where its going to be, Belvidere knows where its going to be, Machesney Park knows where they're going to be and when you are bounded by those agreements it gives you orderly growth. Whereas if you then jump 15 to 18 miles, it causes people to have concern," says 5th Ward Alderman Victory Bell.
Pecatonica village trustees have promised to make a decision by may 7th. If they vote to approve the project, Boone county, Belvidere school and Flora Township leaders have threatened to sue. Belvidere school leaders say their overcrowded system could not handle the additional 16-hundred to 2,000 students the subdivision is expected to bring in over the next few years.
A 2005 Supreme Court decision changed the original state law disallowing a municipality from annexing land more than a mile and a half from its boundaries. The Illinois House passed a bill Tuesday that would close that loophole. The senate must consider it next.