Rockford Chancery building demolition will have to wait until next court date

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - With city permits in hand, the Rockford Diocese attempts to start demolition on the Rockford Chancery building. But there was a snag in their plans which put a halt to the destruction.

"The Diocese chose to move ahead of the date that they told the city. Which you know could be viewed as a promise which they broke," said Vice Present of Save Piety Hill Mark Bonne.

Save Piety Hill is a group trying to save the Rockford Chancery building.

"It may have been neglected on the inside but on the outside, it's still fairly pristine and it has the potential to be redeveloped and be a huge economic lift for this neighbor," Bonne said.

On May 6th the Rockford City Council denied a request to deem the building a historic landmark, which paved the way for the Rockford Diocese to tear down the structure. After receiving a permit Thursday the Diocese ordered demolition to begin Friday. But it forgot one detail.

"There is a provision within our demolition ordinance which requires notifications to adjacent property owners. We became aware that that notification did not take place so we posted a stop work order," said Rockford City Administrator Todd Cagnoni.

Save Piety Hill also filed a lawsuit against the city. In an initial hearing Friday the judge issued a temporary restraining order stopping demolition until the courts can listen to both sides and weigh in on the issue.

"They violated several ordinances and the complaint alleges additional that the Illinois Constitution has been violated and that preferences were given to the diocese simply because it was a religious organization," Bonne said.

We received the following statement from the diocese of Rockford, “The Diocese of Rockford has complied with every part of state law and city ordinances to date. Late Thursday, May 16, the appropriate demolition permits were issued by the city of Rockford after the contractor and the Diocese waited for 10 days. We will continue to follow the local processes and the law."

Both sides will be back in court on Friday, May 24th.