Boone County Development

By: Mark Lindner
By: Mark Lindner

Don Greenlee, a Boone County farmer, grew up in the business. His family has owned farms in the Stateline area dating back to the 1860s, which is why the decision to sell his farm off of Illinois 173 was particularly difficult.

"It's hard to turn down when the big money is offered to you," Greenlee says.

Greenlee sold his farmland to First Rockford Group. He anticipates seeing many subdivisions in the future. It was a difficult decision; hold onto a farm that has been in the family for generations or sell it to a developer.

"A lot of farmers that lived fairly poor most of their lives and the chance comes to cash in, you can't blame them for wanting to take advantage of that," Greenlee says.

But it's a different story for Marshall Newhouse. This Boone County farmer is holding on tight to the 1300 acres he owns.

"The way the prices are escalating, this is a good place to buy," Newhouse says.
Newhouse has been farming since 1979. He turned down an offer from a developer several years back. Most farmers say the value of their land has gone up five times in recent years. While he's not letting go, he understands why some of his colleagues are selling out.

"The amount of revenue that you can generate farming just isn't there to be able to compete with the investment dollars if you want to be buying land," Newhouse says.

McHenry-based Gerstad Builders is developing the Trails at Dawson Creek subdivision in Poplar Grove. The 280-home subdivision is going up on what used to be farmland.

"The market is just moving this way, there's still nice land out here, its nice and homey. Its just a nice feel," says Donna Rodebeck, a sales associate with Gerstad Builders.

"If people are coming in and they're spending money, building homes, creating jobs, its a good thing," Marshall Newhouse says.

But for those farmers who cashed in it's not easy for the development to register.

"Its hard to look at sometimes, but that's the way things are, things change," Greenlee says.

Developers say they are lured to Boone County because the future home owner gets a better deal. They say houses in the Stateline area tend to run almost $60,000 cheaper than in suburbs. Meanwhile, houses in the Trails of Dawson Creek subdivision will start at around $190,000.


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