Development Dreams Dividing Community And Stirring Debate

By: Brad Broders
By: Brad Broders

New growth. It's a big dilemma for small towns. On one hand, the community and area schools rake in new dollars. But on the other hand, any development could crush an identity. That's the problem facing Caledonia leaders, as they weigh a developer's dream with resident concerns.

The project is called Caledonia Crossings. If it's built, the village's population would at least quadruple, and that's creating friction and heated debate.

Caledonia is located on Illinois 173 in Boone County, about 10 miles north of Belvidere.

A village committee will consider zoning changes for the project on 200 acres of land. The development would initially add 370 homes, and several stores. But several village residents are angry. Some feel betrayed that Caledonia leaders could destroy the village's intimacy, for the almighty dollar.

However, developer Jim Bassett says the project would boost all of Caledonia. Crews have promised to build a new village water and sewage line for everyone to use.

But some neighbors say that's not good enough.

"This is some of the most valuable, most productive, fertile land in Boone County, and now that they are turning it into housing. It's just a fit," Jim Olstad said.

"The consensus of this community is they do not want the growth. If they do want the growth, then it should be controlled growth and they should not be sold out by water and sewer. They should not look at other alternatives," Karen Yocum said.

If the committee approves the updated zoning for Caledonia Crossings, the project would then go to the full Caledonia Village Board for final approval. The developer says if that goes well, construction crews could begin moving dirt this spring.


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