The Grundy County Board has rejected a proposal to turn farm property along Route 6 into commercial property, after listening to neighbors in the rural area voice strong concerns over the plan.
At issue was a map amendment seeking to convert 5.76 acres of agricultural zoned property at 5650 W. Route 6 in Nettle Creek Township, owned by Beth Varland, to commercial general zoning to accommodate a pipe fitting business.
But neighbors stood up one by one to oppose the issue, arguing that agricultural land isn’t the proper spot for new businesses.
Jack Hynds, an attorney representing one of those neighbors, said the change would set a poor precedent.
“From a planning standpoint, we’re not just talking about six [acres], you’re talking thousands of acres that are zoned agriculture in Grundy County,” Hynds said. “If you start making this type of exception, our argument is, there’s just no basis for it. I own farmland... and if someone offered me $200,000 for three acres, I’d take it, why not.
“But you have an ordinance that says, no, we want our development to occur near communities. You want it to grow out of Coal City, you want it to grown out of Morris. You don’t want commercial uses ... throughout your agricultural area.”
Nancy Gurerro lives just east of the property on her family farm that has been in the family for the past six decades.
She also said that by law, commercial properties should only be approved if they are adjacent to a municipal boundary.
“I can understand that as the city of Morris grows, that commercial property will eventually get out to our area,” Gurerro said. “But the ordinances that were made in 2010 state that it should come from the city of Morris, or from the Seneca exit, not some spot right in the middle. We all live there. We have homes, farms, it’s our property, would you like [a commercial business] built across the street from your house?”
Gurerro also noted that the two businesses that are currently along Route 6, which were granted zoning before the changes in 2010, are farm-related businesses, making them fit in with the agricultural area.
“I’m objecting to creating a spot out in the middle of the country surrounded by homes,” Guerrero said. “This is not just in the middle of farmland; there are people who live there, and we are concerned about the types of businesses that might be there.”
The board unanimously denied the proposal.