Hundreds turn out for Pecatonica's Village Board meeting Tuesday night to boo developer Gary Erb's attempts to woo the village into annexing his proposed three-thousand unit cross-county subdivision.
Pecatonica, population 2,000 is located 26 miles and one county line from the site of Gary Erb's proposed subdivision, approximate population 9,000.
But Pecatonica Village trustees aren't too worried about managing the potential annexation, because they wouldn't have to provide any services. Many of the community leaders crowding Pecatonica High School Tuesday night would.
"It's frightening to me as the sheriff of Boone County to give the protection that my county needs and I'm not sure that I can, doing the best I can," says Boone County Sheriff Duane Wirth.
"Neither the district nor the taxpayers will be able to handle the additional students Mr. Erb's development will bring. Education will suffer in District 100," says Belvidere School Board Member Doug Smiley.
Developer Gary Erb has promised Pecatonica almost $336,000 a year. That's a tough offer to pass up. But with leaders from neighboring communities and residents within Pecatonica calling the project uneighborly, devastating and crippling, Pecatonica leaders may be thinking twice.
"It's a top concern of ours that we aren't producing a development that they can't support with the tax dollars and you know if we can't answer those questions adequately then I can tell you what the vote is likely to be because I can't see Pecatonica doing that," says Pecatonica Village President Dan Mathews.
The Pecatonica board voted Tuesday night to obtain new legal council because it's current lawyer's firm has ties to Cherry Valley and Belvidere, both communities are considering legal action if Pecatonica approves the project. Erb's company will reimburse Pecatonica for the lawyer, something many community members found troubling. But Mathews says it's normal for a developer to pay for council, the village could not afford to explore the project without the developer chipping in on costs incurred.
The village board will hold another public forum Monday night, after which it's promised to take a final vote.
The Illinois House passed a law last week that would close the loophole from a 2005 Supreme Court ruling allowing long-distance annexations. The Senate must now consider it.