Laurent House expansion plan approved

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- The Laurent House in Rockford, built by famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright, is looking to expand its operations as the number of visitors are expected to increase.

The Laurent House Foundation and nearby concerned residents came together at the most recent meeting of the City of Rockford's Zoning Board of Appeals, so board members could vote on whether or not this expansion moves forward.

Jerry Heinzeroth, President of the Laurent House foundation, presented his plan of a proposed expansion and says some changes are necessary for the future of the iconic home. Heinzeroth says, "Visitors much have an easy, safe access to the museum. And that access must provide all of the amenities and comforts they expect from an internationally recognized, singular example of Frank Lloyd Wright's work."

He also mentions that not only is this a benefit for the home, but the city of Rockford as well. Heinzeroth says, "People come, not to Rockford, they come to see the Laurent house and those people who do that, stay to discover to see what Rockford has to offer."

Although this expansion plan could boost the attraction, some neighbors don't want to see the traffic in the area increase. Tom Harker lives two houses away from the Laurent House on Spring Brook Road in Rockford. He's not in favor of a proposed expansion to the historic attraction.

Harker says, "I feel terrible. I feel that the city of Rockford is not listening to residents. The residents pay property taxes. The commercial business the Laurent Foundation pays nothing in property taxes. I'm a huge fan of Frank Lloyd Wright, I don't agree with the premise of taking a 1400 square foot house and turning it into a campus environment."

The proposed amendment to expand the Laurent House was passed 5-1 through the Rockford Zoning Board of Appeals and it now moves on to the Code and Regulations Committee. Their next meeting is on Monday, April 22.