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Residential care permit denied

PRINCETON — The Bureau County Board has said no to a conditional use permit for a private residential care institution near Tiskilwa.

At Tuesday's meeting, the county board heard from neighbors opposed to the proposed Seed of Hope residential care institution, which would have been built on a 28-acre property located on the Tiskilwa Bottom Road between the Iowa Interstate Railroad and the Hennepin Canal.

In his comments, neighbor Dale Kimberley said there are several safety concerns about the proposed structure. For one thing, the proposed building would be built on stilts and is located in a flood area. A building on stilts would also be in danger during a tornado. The nearby railroad goes over a low overpass, which could be a problem for emergency vehicles, specifically larger fire trucks. Another concern is the type of persons who would be living there, whether it would be troubled teens, the elderly or others. The area is a mosquito haven, which makes it not a good place for people, Kimberly said.

Neighbor Terry Munson said his main question is who would be responsible for the people living there. He is concerned about the safety and general well-being of his family and his neighbors. In presenting a petition signed by residents opposing the project, Munson said 80 percent of the people in the immediate area are not in favor of the proposed project.

"I can't imagine anyone wanting this in their neighborhood," Munson said.

Project developer Steve Graham of Tiskilwa did not make it to the county board meeting in time to make a presentation on the proposed residential care institution, hear the neighbors' concerns or talk about any details concerning the facility, but he did make it in time to answer questions from county board members during the Zoning Committee report.

In her committee report, Zoning Committee Chairman Marsha Lilley said the zoning committee had no recommendation on the conditional use permit request, though the Zoning Board of Appeals had voted 4 to 1 in favor of granting the permit with stipulations.

Board member Steve Sondgeroth said his No. 1 question is who would be responsible for the people living at the facility, not just now but in the future when the Grahams would no longer be there. There were too many unanswered questions to vote at Tuesday's meeting, he said.

In response, Graham said he and his wife would be responsible for their own actions, but the adults who would be living there would be responsible for theirs. If their actions were not acceptable, they would be removed.

Regarding the location of the facility, Graham said he didn't think there were any safety concerns. The proposed place is away from most people, with the nearest neighbor about one-half mile away. Graham said he and his wife take their own safety seriously and didn't think there would be any safety concerns for neighbors.

Board member Jim Donarski also expressed his concerns about the project, saying it sounded like a lot of activity would be brought to the area and that it would disrupt the area quite a bit. Plus, there are too many people against it, he said.

Following further discussion, board member Marc Wilt made the motion to deny the conditional use permit request with a second from Donarski.

The motion to deny was passed on a 15 to 7 vote. Voting against the motion were Dan Rabe, Robin Rediger, Laura Rose, Loretta Volker, Tom Giordano, Mark Pierson and Rob Pozzi. Absent were board members Bob Albrecht, Mike Kohr and Mike Maynard. Board member Joe Bassetti abstained from the vote.

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