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03-22-06 Council’s annexation refusal means Rockford clerk will lose her job

By William Kincaid

  ROCKFORD -- Village Treasurer/-Clerk Amy Lyons' request to have land for her new home annexed to the village was turned down by council Tuesday.

  Amy and her husband Tom Lyons own property on Rockford West Road and want it annexed into the village before they construct a new home. Because Amy Lyons is an elected official, she must reside within the village to keep her job, according to state law.

  Amy Lyons this morning said she and her husband still plan to build on the property, meaning she will lose her job. Her position will be up for re-election for 2008.

  "I will not be able to keep my job, if we are not annexed into town," she said.

  The resolution to accept the Lyons' petition to annex the property was voted down on its second reading Tuesday by a 4-to-2 vote. Eugene Steiner and Greg Pontsler were the only two council members who voted yes.  Before the vote, Tom Lyons was visibly upset as he repeatedly questioned council why they weren't interested in annexing his property.

  "Why would you not want to expand?" he asked council, singling out Ron Searight, who was leading the vocal opposition to annexation during its first reading.

  Searight responded he didn't see the logic or fairness in annexing land for one individual lot -- a decision that would have cost the village more than $15,000 to expand water and sewer lines to that property. He added that such a move could act as precedent, if an individual would want to build south or across the river.

  Earlier in the meeting, Village Administrator Jeff Long said the $15,000 investment in infrastructure costs could be a good financial move for the village.

  "It would be a small investment for the village, which could get a good payback," he said, citing Rockford would recoup $11,000 on the Lyons' property alone within five years from income taxes, real estate taxes and utility payments.

  Long also said if more homes were to develop in the same area, the village would make even more money from the same cost investment.

  Tom Lyons called for council to be proactive in expanding the village. He said many people have questioned why he would even want to be a part of the village, when he could simply purchase a septic tank and not have to worry about utility bills.

  Councilwoman Amy Joseph said "she would feel better if we were annexing in more than one lot."

  "Can we afford as a community to spend $15,000 for each home?" Searight asked.

  "How can't you expand?" village employee Tom Beahrs asked, before saying that Rockford should be ready to develop in all directions regardless of the number of lots to be annexed.

  Tom Lyons then asked council if he would be guaranteed a waiver preventing the village from charging him sewer and water tap-in fees if council changes its mind in the future and decides to annex his land and surrounding land.

  "That's not a possibility," Long said.

  Councilman Randy Gutierezz, who abstained from the vote during the first reading because of a conflict of interest, voted against it at Tuesday's meeting. Before the vote, he asked Amy Lyons for the paperwork involved in the petition to get the land annexed, which included signatures from all parties involved, but she said she didn't plan to bring it until the third reading.

  After the vote, The Daily Standard asked Mayor Robert King and other council members if the reading would continue to a third reading, even though it was defeated during its second reading. No one seemed to know the answer, including village attorney Judy Koesters.


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